Essays on Entrepreneurship and Founder Pre-entry Knowledge
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This dissertation research extends our understanding of the ways in which founder pre-entry knowledge influences the evolution and performance of start-ups in technologically intensive industries. In the first chapter, I review existing literature and identify some open questions and theoretical and empirical puzzles. In the second chapter, using the minimally invasive surgical devices (MIS) industry as the context, I explore the implications of early choices of a new venture’s knowledge structure, specifically its technological complexity, on the subsequent development of the venture’s knowledge trajectory and its eventual performance through successful product commercialization. My findings deepen our understanding of the determinants of successful product introduction by start-ups and shed further light on the deep and lasting relationship between founders and the ventures they create. In the third chapter, I focus specifically on VC-funded serial entrepreneurs across six high-tech industry contexts and investigate how knowledge gained through prior entrepreneurial experience can have a differential impact on different indicators of firm performance. Knowledge gained through prior entrepreneurial experience shapes entrepreneurs’ behavior and perceptions in important ways and while extant literature has largely focused on the positive effect of this knowledge on a firm’s likelihood of achieving success, this study identifies important trade-offs that arise due to the myopic nature of this learning. By focusing attention on two important types of founder pre-entry knowledge – technological knowledge and market knowledge and two indicators of firm performance – invention impact and economic success, this study uncovers important contingencies that shape the extent and nature by which prior experience translates into subsequent performance. Taken together, this dissertation research takes another step towards opening up the black-box of how founding teams impact firm performance.