سرمایه انسانی بنیانگذاران و رشد شرکت های مبتنی بر فن آوری های نوین: دیدگاه مبتنی بر مهارت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|18010||2005||22 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Research Policy, Volume 34, Issue 6, August 2005, Pages 795–816
In this paper, we analyze empirically the relation between the growth of new technology-based firms and the human capital of founders, with the aim of teasing out the “wealth” and “capability” effects of human capital. For this purpose, we take advantage of a new data set relating to a sample composed of 506 Italian young firms that operate in high-tech industries in both manufacturing and services. In accordance with competence-based theories, the econometric estimates show that the nature of the education and of the prior work experience of founders exerts a key influence on growth. In fact, founders’ years of university education in economic and managerial fields and to a lesser extent in scientific and technical fields positively affect growth while education in other fields does not. Similarly prior work experience in the same industry of the new firm is positively associated with growth while prior work experience in other industries is not. Furthermore, it is the technical work experience of founders as opposed to their commercial work experience that determines growth. The fact that within the founding team there are individuals with prior entrepreneurial experiences also results in superior growth. Lastly, we provide evidence that there are synergistic gains from the combination of the complementary capabilities of founders relating to (i) economic-managerial and scientific-technical education and (ii) technical and commercial industry-specific work experiences. We conclude that the human capital of founders of new technology-based firms is not just a proxy for personal wealth.
It is generally acknowledged in the economic literature that new firms, especially new technology-based firms (NTBFs), greatly contribute to the static and dynamic efficiency of the economic system (see for instance, Audretsch, 1995). So, a conspicuous body of empirical studies that will be surveyed in next section (see also Storey, 1994) has analyzed the determinants of their post-entry performances focusing attention on the role played by the human capital characteristics of founding teams. The likelihood of survival of new firms and the growth of surviving firms have generally been found to be positively related to the age, education, and work experience of founders. Nonetheless, this evidence is coherent with different arguments proposed by different streams of the theoretical literature in management, economics, and finance. Studies in financial economics argue that due to capital market imperfections, it is difficult for NTBFs to obtain the external financing they need; in turn lack of adequate funds hinders firms’ growth and even threatens survival (Carpenter and Petersen, 2002a and Carpenter and Petersen, 2002b). Firms that are established by wealthier individuals are less affected by financial constraints as greater personal capital is available to finance firms’ operations. Previous studies have shown that there is a positive relation between the human capital and the wealth of individuals (Xu, 1998 and Astebro and Bernhardt, 1999). Hence, the positive relation between the post-entry performances of NTBFs and the human capital of their founders may be traced to the “wealth effect” of human capital, simply revealing the presence of binding financial constraints. Works inspired by the competence-based perspective suggest a different explanation. Hinging on the seminal contributions by Knight (1921) and Schumpeter (1934), this stream of literature argues that firms are bundles of unique, difficult to imitate capabilities.1 Due to the idiosyncratic, non-contractible nature of entrepreneurial judgment and the high costs necessary to coordinate knowledge dispersed among different individuals (see Hodgson, 1998), the distinctive capabilities of NTBFs are closely related to the knowledge and skills of their founders. In turn, these depend on what founders learned through formal education and prior professional experience. Accordingly, NTBFs established by individuals with greater human capital should outperform other NTBFs because of their unique capabilities. In other words, it is the “capability effect” of founders’ human capital that explains its positive impact on the performances of NTBFs. Whether it is the “wealth effect” or the “capability effect” that determines the positive association between the growth of NTBFs and the human capital of their founding teams is an important though so far quite underresearched question. In fact, the implications for both entrepreneurs and policy makers widely differ. If the greater financial resources of high human capital individuals are the main determinant of the above mentioned association, the effort of entrepreneurs, and the attention of policy makers should prevalently be drawn to how to fill the so called “funding gap” (Cressy, 2000). Conversely, evidence that founders’ unique knowledge and skills greatly contribute to growth indicates that how to fill the “knowledge gap” should be a key priority for entrepreneurs and policy makers. The objective of this paper is to tease out empirically the “wealth” and “capability” effects of founders’ human capital on the growth of NTBFs. For this purpose, we analyze the relation between the growth of NTBFs and the human capital characteristics of their founders through the estimates of several econometric models. As was mentioned above and will be illustrated in next section in greater detail, numerous studies have previously analyzed this issue. We depart from this literature in three respects. First, we take advantage of a more fine-grained description of the human capital characteristics of founders than the one generally used by econometric studies based on large datasets. Following Becker (1975), a distinction is often made in the literature between the generic and specific components of human capital. Generic human capital relates to the general knowledge acquired by entrepreneurs through both formal education and professional experience. Specific human capital consists of capabilities that founders can directly apply to the entrepreneurial job in the newly created firm. These include knowledge of the industry in which the new firm operates, that is industry-specific human capital obtained by founders through prior work experience in the same industry. They also include knowledge of how to manage a new firm, that is entrepreneur-specific human capital; this is developed by founders through “leadership experience” ( Brüderl et al., 1992) obtained either through a managerial position in another firm or in prior self-employment episodes. In this paper, we conform to this distinction. In addition, we consider the nature of both education (either technical and scientific or economic and managerial) and work experience (either technical or commercial). We contend that if the “wealth effect” were the only effect at work, founders’ years of education and work experience would have a positive impact on growth, as they proxy greater personal wealth. Nonetheless, the field of education of founders should not play any role. Similarly, whether founders’ prior work experience relates to the sector in which the NTBF operates or to a different sector and to technical or commercial functions should not make any difference. Conversely, if growth turns out to depend on the field of education of founders, the industry of the firm by which they were formerly employed, and the functional domain of their work experience, this will provide evidence supporting the competence-based argument. Second, we try to detect the existence of synergistic gains that arise from the heterogeneity of capabilities within the founding team, as are reflected by founders’ human capital characteristics. With all else equal, if NTBFs established by individuals with heterogeneous education and professional experience exhibit higher growth, this again suggests that the positive relation between founders’ human capital and growth cannot be explained by the “wealth effect” alone. In addition, while it is often claimed in the managerial literature that the heterogeneity of founders’ capabilities matters for growth (see for instance, Cooper and Bruno, 1977 and Eisenhardt and Schoonhoven, 1990), the precise nature of the associated synergies has remained largely unexplored. Third, while we focus on founders’ human capital, we control for other covariates that may influence growth. Among them access to outside equity financing figures prominently. In fact, the likelihood of obtaining outside equity capital possibly depends on the human capital of founders. Moreover, it may depend on other unobserved factors that also affect growth. So, failure to control for the endogeneity bias possibly generated by unobserved heterogeneity across firms may have led to inconsistent estimates in previous studies. In order to address the above mentioned research questions, we take advantage of a new dataset relating to a sample composed of 506 Italian young firms that operate in high-tech industries in both manufacturing and services. The Research on Entrepreneurship in Advanced Technologies (RITA) database from which sample firms are extracted, provides very detailed information on the human capital characteristics of each individual founder2 and other factors that may influence the growth of NTBFs. The econometric findings confirm the positive impact exerted by founders’ human capital on firms’ growth. More interestingly, they allow to detect both “wealth” and “capability” effects. In other words, in accordance with the competence-based approach the positive relation between founders’ human capital and growth cannot simply be explained by the greater wealth of more qualified individuals. The paper proceeds as follows. In next section, we briefly synthesize the theoretical and empirical literature relating to the impact of founders’ human capital on firms’ post-entry performances, and we formulate the research hypotheses. Then, we describe the dataset, we illustrate the specification of the econometric models and the dependent and explanatory variables, and we present the results of the econometric estimates. In the subsequent section, a discussion of the main findings and of directions for future research concludes the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper, we have examined the relation between the human capital of the founding team and the growth of NTBFs. This issue is hardly new in the literature. Previous empirical studies have generally highlighted a positive effect on growth of variables that mirror the education attainments and the prior work experience of founders. Nevertheless, this evidence does not allow to tease out the “wealth” and “capability” effects of founders’ human capital. On the one hand, the human capital and the wealth of individuals are positively correlated (Xu, 1998 and Astebro and Bernhardt, 1999). Accordingly, studies emphasizing capital market imperfections suggest that founders with greater human capital have access to greater financial resources and thus are able to relax the financial constraints that otherwise hinder firms’ growth. On the other hand, competence-based theories argue that the distinctive capabilities of NTBFs are closely associated with the knowledge and skills of their founders (Cooper and Bruno, 1977 and Feeser and Willard, 1990). Therefore, firms established by individuals with greater human capital enjoy superior growth because of their unique capabilities. Whether it is the “wealth effect” or the “capability effect” of founders’ human capital that explains NTBFs’ growth still is an open question, in spite of the fact that it has important implications for both would-be entrepreneurs and policy makers. If the positive impact on growth of the human capital of founders were simply to be traced to easier access to financing, this would reveal the presence of binding financial constraints to growth. Hence, potential entrepreneurs should concentrate efforts on the search for adequate financing to start a new high-tech venture. Moreover the “funding gap” (Cressy, 2002) would be the key target of technology policy. Conversely, evidence that founders’ distinctive capabilities play a key role for growth would bring the “knowledge gap” to the fore. In other words, both potential entrepreneurs and policy makers should carefully consider that in addition to financing, NTBFs find it difficult to have access to outside competencies and other resources; if these competencies and resources are not available within the founding team, this may severely limit growth. In addressing this research question, we have considered a sample composed of 506 Italian young firms that operate in high-tech sectors, both in manufacturing and services. We have departed from previous literature in three respects. First, we have taken advantage of a more fine-grained description of the human capital of founders than the one available in most previous studies based on the estimates of econometric models relating to large samples of firms. Second, we have explicitly investigated the existence of synergistic gains that arise from the presence within the founding team of individuals with heterogeneous human capital characteristics, a situation that is germane to the competence-based argument. Third, we have controlled for the impact on firms’ growth of other variables, including access to external private equity financing. The likelihood of resorting to this source of financing may depend on the human capital characteristics of founders. In addition, it may be affected by unobserved factors that also influence growth; so failure to adjust for the endogeneity of the financial structure of firms may have led to biased estimates in previous studies. The findings of the paper support the argument inspired by competence-based theories that the capabilities of founders as are reflected by their human capital characteristics, are a key driver of NTBFs’ growth. In fact, both the education and the work experience of founders were found to differently affect firms’ growth according to their specific nature. More precisely, while the years of education of founders are not related to growth, the years of undergraduate and graduate education in economic and managerial fields and to a lesser extent in technical and scientific fields do positively affect growth. As to professional experience, NTBFs established by individuals who have greater work experience in technical functions in the same industry of the new firm and have been involved in prior entrepreneurial ventures exhibit superior growth, with all else equal. Conversely, work experience in other industries or in the same industry in commercial functions turns out to play a negligible role. Furthermore, the fact that founders previously had a managerial position in another firm seems not to affect firms’ growth; this notwithstanding, firms founded by these individuals are more likely to obtain external private equity financing, which in turn has a sizable positive effect on growth. So, the association highlighted by previous studies between managerial experience and growth may be the result of a spurious correlation. In addition, we have provided evidence that there are synergistic effects originating from the presence within the founding team of specific complementary capabilities. They arise from university education in economic-managerial and technical-scientific fields and from industry-specific work experience in technical and commercial functions. In particular, absent technological competencies founders’ commercial competencies have negligible influence on firms’ performance; nonetheless, if these latter competencies are present within the founding team, the positive contribution to growth provided by the simultaneous presence of technical competencies considerably increases. We think that these results are very interesting, as they extend our understanding of the factors that drive the growth of NTBFs. As was mentioned above, they have important implications for potential entrepreneurs and policy makers, and also stimulate new research questions. In this perspective, two directions for future research seem especially promising. First, our estimates indicate that recourse to outside private equity financing has a very large positive contribution to growth, once we control for endogeneity. We have also shown that the likelihood of resorting to this source of financing depends on the education of founders, their managerial experience and other observable factors. Quite surprisingly, it was found not to depend on other human capital characteristics that positively influence firms’ growth, notably the industry-specific technical work experience of founders. In addition, we provided evidence that unobservable factors that positively affect growth might have an opposite effect on the likelihood of resorting to outside private equity financing. This evidence is compatible with a situation in which NTBFs that have a high “hidden value” and would potentially grow at rapid rate, self-select out of the capital market, thus lowering their actual rate of growth (for a similar view see Astebro, 2002 and Kon and Storey, 2003). It might also signal that in Italy, being part of an “old boys network” helps more in getting access to outside private equity capital than having specialized knowledge and skills. In order to gain further insights into this important issue, it is fundamental to analyze the different sources of outside equity financing used by NTBFs (i.e., venture capital, corporate venture capital, equity capital provided by banks and other financial intermediaries) and to assess their differential impact on firms’ growth. Unfortunately, this was not possible due to lack of data, but remains high in our research agenda. Second, our findings indicate that NTBFs enjoy highest growth when both industry-specific technical and commercial skills are combined together within the founding team, a situation that was not common in our sample of firms. Consequently, many new firms that are created by individuals with sophisticated technical skills, have a technology-driven competitive advantage and would potentially enjoy rapid growth, suffer from lack of complementary commercial competencies; this may finally jeopardize growth. Therefore, these firms face the dilemma of how to obtain external support so as to fill their “knowledge gap”. Previous studies (see for instance, McGee et al., 1995, Eisenhardt and Schoonhoven, 1996, Stuart et al., 1999 and Lee et al., 2001) suggest that alliances with larger corporations may provide NTBFs with access to much needed complementary commercial assets (i.e., sale force, brand name, customer care, distribution facilities). Help may also be obtained from venture capitalists. In fact, in addition to providing financing, venture capitalists allegedly use their managerial skills and network of contacts to assist entrepreneurs of participated companies in domains where these latter lack autonomous expertise (see for instance, Gormon and Sahlman, 1989, Mac Millan et al., 1989 and Barry et al., 1990). Nevertheless, these moves are not without drawbacks. In particular, to the extent that partners, be they a venture capitalist or a large corporation, are equipped with sufficient “absorptive capacity” (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990), such linkages expose the new firm to the risk of increasing technological spillovers and possibly dilapidating its technology-based competitive advantage (see Hamel, 1991. See also the literature on the double sided moral hazard problem inherent in venture capital financing, for instance, Yosha, 1995 and Ueda, 2002). As is recognized by Cooper (2002, p. 218), further research work is needed to gain a better understanding of the circumstances under which alliances and other external linkages are an efficient growth vehicle for NTBFs and of the governance structure and organizational mechanisms that are most suitable for this purpose.