PhD Defense by Congshan Li

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Area: Strategy & Innovation Committee members: Frank T. Rothaermel (co-chair), Peter Thompson (co-chair), David Ku, Marco Ceccagnoli, Dong Liu Title: Essays on Technology Commercialization Strategies of High-tech Entrepreneurs   Chapter 1: The Network of Knowledge Networks: How Informal Ties Shape the Formal Alliances of Startups A tenet of the relational view of a firm is that strategic alliances are often needed to gain and sustain a competitive advantage, particularly in knowledge-intensive industries. When searching for information and resources, firms frequently rely on their prior alliances to form future ties. Although this received wisdom tends to hold for existing firms, new ventures face a conundrum:  Since they generally do not possess prior alliances, how do they obtain information relevant for future alliance formation?  We posit that the less visible, informal knowledge networks of individuals are a relevant source of information that drives the formation of future alliances between firms. We hypothesize that certain structural characteristics of an informal knowledge network such as the extent to which information is diversified and the information processing capabilities of key individuals are positively correlated with the formation of future alliances. Using fine-grained patent data to construct the co-inventing ego networks for 422 new biotech firms, we find broad support for our conjectures.   Chapter 2: The Novelty of Innovation and Exit Activities of High-tech Startups While the novelty of a startup’s innovations is known to have persistent effects on commercialization activities and performance, we know little about how novelty affects the likelihood of successful exit or the mode of exit. This paper studies the impact that novel innovation has on the probability of a successful exit, the chances of forming strategic alliances and how this, in turn, influences exit activity, as well as the mode of exit and financial returns. We use an improved measure of the novelty of innovation to empirically examine these questions for a sample of startups in the healthcare and allied industries. Our main findings are as follows: 1. Startups with novel innovations are less likely to have a successful exit; 2. This negative effect of novelty is attributable in part to an increased difficulty in forming strategic alliances; 3. IPO is a higher probability exit mode compared to acquisition for startups with novel innovations and among startups that succeed in exiting by IPO, those with novel innovations exit with higher valuations.   Chapter 3: The Moderating Effect of Education on Serial Entrepreneurship Performance Although the performance of serial entrepreneurs is, on average, better than that of novice entrepreneurs, it varies widely.  Studies have investigated several external factors that influence the expected performance of serial entrepreneurs.  This study adds to the literature by examining how education, as an individual characteristic, is associated with changes in the expected performance of serial entrepreneurs.  Referring to experiential learning theory and Lazear’s occupation choice model, we theoretically analyze the effect that education has on entrepreneurial learning-by-doing and self-selection processes, the two major determiners of the performance of serial entrepreneurs.  The joint effect of education on these two processes has a positive moderation effect on the entrepreneurial experience and venture performance. Empirical testing supports our analysis. The results of this paper contribute to the literature on serial entrepreneurship and has practical implications in the job market.      


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Created: 06/10/2019
  • Modified By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Modified: 06/10/2019