Research and teaching
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Sampsa Samila and Olav Sorenson

We argue that social and financial capital have a complementary relationship in fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth. Using panel data on metropolitan areas in the United States, from 1993 to 2002, our analyses reveal that social integration – in the microgeography of residential patterns – moderates the effect of venture capital, with more integrated regions benefitting more from expansions in the supply of financial capital. Our results remain robust to estimation with an instrumental variable to address potential endogeneity in the geography of venture capital. We also find some evidence for a similar effect from business associations. Our findings support the idea that social structure may contribute importantly to regional economic differences.

American Sociological Review, 82 (2017): in press

Entrepreneurs and social capital in China

June 13th, 2017 | Posted by admin in 2017 - (0 Comments)

Olav Sorenson

Does social capital operate differently in China? A long and vibrant literature on the concept of guanxi suggests not only that social capital might have a different character in China but also that it might prove more valuable there to employees and entrepreneurs alike. Drawing on unusually high quality data on Chinese executives, Burt and Burzynska (2017) explore the question of whether the same structural configurations of relationships appear associated with success in China as have been found in the West. Their short answer is yes. In this response, I comment on their article.

Management and Organization Review, 13 (2017): 275-280

Expand innovation finance via crowdfunding

January 3rd, 2017 | Posted by admin in 2016 - (0 Comments)

Olav Sorenson, Valentina Assenova, Guan-Cheng Li, Jason Boada, and Lee Fleming

Using data on Kickstarter campaigns and venture capital investments from 2009–2015, we explored whether crowdfunding expanded access to financial capital, in the sense of supporting innovation in more geographically diverse regions than venture capital. Over this period, crowdfunding has supported projects in many regions that have attracted little or no venture capital. Within regions, moreover, the evidence suggests that successful crowdfunding campaigns attract future venture capital investments and that they have been doing so at an increasing rate. Crowdfunding therefore appears to be expanding access to capital to a larger pool of innovators.

Science, 354 (2016): 1526-1528

Supplemental Materials

Replication data and analysis files

Valentina Assenova and Olav Sorenson

Entrepreneurs in many emerging economies start their firm informally, without registering with the state. We examine how informality at the time of founding affected the growth and performance of 12,146 firms in 18 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Our findings indicate that entrepreneurs who registered their firms at founding enjoyed greater success, in terms of sales and employment. But these benefits varied widely across countries. Countries in which people perceive the government as being less corrupt, those in which they have greater trust in the courts, and those with lower levels of ethnic conflict had larger performance benefits associated with being formal. The benefits of firm formalization therefore appear to depend on the socio-political legitimacy of the state.

 

Valuation, categories and attributes

August 11th, 2014 | Posted by admin in 2014 - (0 Comments)

Inna Galperin and Olav Sorenson

Existing research on categories has only examined indirectly the value associated with being a member of a category relative to the value of the set of attributes that determine membership in that category. This study uses survey data to analyze consumers’ preferences for the “organic” label versus for the attributes underlying that label. We found that consumers generally preferred products with the category label to those with the attributes required for the organic label but without the label. We also found that the value accorded to the organic label increased with the number of attributes that an individual associated with the category. Category membership nevertheless still had greater value than even that of the sum of the attributes associated with it.

PLoS One, 9 (2014): e103002

The who, why and how of spinoffs

May 27th, 2014 | Posted by admin in 2014 - (0 Comments)

Michael S. Dahl and Olav Sorenson

Studies have consistently found that entrepreneurs who enter industries in which they have prior experience as employees perform better than others. We nevertheless know relatively little about what accounts for these differences. The presumed explanation has generally been that these entrepreneurs benefit from the knowledge that they gained in their former jobs. But they might also differ from other entrepreneurs on a variety of other dimensions: Preferential access to resources or differing motivations, for example, may account for their decisions to enter known industries instead of new ones. Combining novel data from a representative survey of entrepreneurs in Denmark with a matched employer-employee database of all residents in Denmark, we examined how entrepreneurs with prior industry experience differed from those without and the extent to which these differences could account for the performance premium associated with prior industry experience. We found that those with industry experience came from younger, smaller and more profitable firms, and that they recruited more experienced employees, worked harder and placed less value on having flexible hours. The recruitment of more experienced employees and the greater effort exerted appeared to account for at least some of the performance advantage associated with prior industry experience.

Industrial and Corporate Change, 23 (2014): 661-688

Michael S. Dahl and Olav Sorenson

Entrepreneurs, even more than employees, tend to locate in regions in which they have deep roots. Here, we examine the performance implications of these choices. Whereas one might expect entrepreneurs with deep roots to perform better because of their richer endowments of social capital, they might also perform worse if their location choices rather reflect a preference for spending time with family and friends. We examine this question using comprehensive data on the Danish population. Entrepreneurs’ ventures perform better – survive longer and generate greater cash flows and cumulative profits – when they locate in regions in which they have deep roots (“home” regions). This effect appears substantial, similar in magnitude to the value of having prior experience in the industry entered (i.e. specific human capital).

Management Science, 58 (2012):1059-1071

 

Sampsa Samila and Olav Sorenson

We find that the enforcement of non-compete clauses significantly impedes entrepreneurship and regional growth. Based on a panel of metropolitan areas in the United States from 1993 to 2002, our results indicate that, relative to regions in states that enforce non-compete covenants, an increase in the local supply of venture capital in states that restrict them has significantly stronger positive effects on (i) the number of patents, (ii) the number of firm starts, and (iii) employment. We address potential endogeneity issues in the supply of venture capital by using endowment returns as an instrumental variable. Our results point to a strong interaction between financial intermediation and the legal regime in promoting entrepreneurship and growth.

Management Science, 57 (2011): 425-438

Sampsa Samila and Olav Sorenson

Using a panel of U.S. metropolitan areas from 1993 to 2002, we find that an increase in the local supply of venture capital (VC) positively affects (i) the number of firm starts, (ii) employment, and (iii) aggregate income. Our results remain robust to a wide variety of specifications, including ones that address potential endogeneity in the supply of venture capital. The magnitudes of the effects, moreover, imply that venture capital stimulates the creation of more firms than it directly funds. That result appears consistent with either of two mechanisms: One, would-be entrepreneurs that anticipate a future need for financing more likely start firms when the supply of capital expands. Two, companies funded by venture capital may transfer tacit knowledge to their employees thereby enabling spinoffs, and may encourage both their own employees and others to become entrepreneurs through demonstration effects.

Review of Economics and Statistics, 93 (2011): 338-349

Sampsa Samila and Olav Sorenson

We find that public research funding and venture capital have a complementary relationship in fostering innovation and the creation of new firms. Based on a panel of metropolitan areas in the United States from 1993 to 2002, we find that the positive relationships between government research grants and the rates of patenting and firm formation in a region become more pronounced as the supply of venture capital in that region increases. Our results remain robust to estimation with an instrumental variable to address potential endogeneity in the provision of venture capital. Consistent with perspectives that emphasize the importance of an innovation ecosystem, our results therefore point to a strong interaction between private financial intermediation and public research funding in promoting entrepreneurship and growth.

Research Policy, 39 (2010): 1348-1360