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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): 770-795

Summarized in Yale Insights

Yuan Shi, David M. Waguespack, and Olav Sorenson

The results of archival studies may depend on when researchers analyze data for at least two reasons: (1) databases change over time and (2) the sampling frame, in terms of the period covered, may reflect different environmental conditions. We examined these issues through the replication of Hochberg, Ljungqvist, and Lu’s (2007) research on the centrality of venture capital firms and their performance. We demonstrate (1) that one can reproduce the results in the original article if one uses data downloaded at roughly the same time as the original researchers did, (2) that these results remain fairly robust to even a decade of database updating, but (3) that the results depend sensitively on the sampling frame. Centrality only has a positive relationship to fund performance during boom periods.

Sociological Science, 4 (2017): 107-122

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

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

Olav Sorenson and Toby E. Stuart

Most existing theories of relationship formation imply that actors form highly cohesive ties that aggregate into homogenous clusters, but actual networks also include many “distant” ties between parties that vary on one or more social dimensions. To explain the formation of distant ties, we propose a theory of relationship formation based on the characteristics of “settings,” or the places and times in which actors meet. We posit that organizations form relations with distant partners when they participate in two types of settings: unusually faddish ones and those with limited risks to participants. In an empirical analysis of our thesis in the formation of syndicate relations between U.S. venture capital firms from 1985 to 2007, we find that the probability that geographically and industry distant ties will form between venture capital firms increases with several attributes of the target-company investment setting: (1) the recent popularity of investing in the target firm’s industry and home region, (2) the target company’s maturity, (3) the size of the investment syndicate, and (4) the density of relationships among the other members of the syndicate.

Administrative Science Quarterly, 53 (2008): 266-294

Toby E. Stuart and Olav Sorenson

One of the most commonly observed features of the organization of markets is that similar business enterprises cluster in physical space. In this paper, we develop an explanation for firm co-location in high-technology industries that draws upon a relational account of new venture creation. We argue that industries cluster because entrepreneurs find it difficult to leverage the social ties necessary to mobilize essential resources when they reside far from those resources. Therefore, opportunities for high tech entrepreneurship mirror the distribution of critical resources. The same factors that enable high tech entrepreneurship, however, do not necessary promote firm performance. In the empirical analyses, we investigate the effects of geographic proximity to established biotechnology firms, sources of biotechnology expertise (highly-skilled labor), and venture capitalists on the location-specific founding rates and performance of biotechnology firms. The paper finds that the local conditions that promote new venture creation differ from those that maximize the performance of recently established companies.

Research Policy, 32 (2003): 229-253

Olav Sorenson and Toby E. Stuart

Sociological investigations of economic exchange reveal how institutions and social structures shape transaction patterns among economic actors. This article explores how interfirm networks in the U.S. venture capital (VC) market affect spatial patterns of exchange. Evidence suggests that information about potential investment opportunities generally circulates within geographic and industry spaces. In turn, the circumscribed flow of information within these spaces contributes to the geographic- and industry-localization of VC investments. Empirical analyses demonstrate that the social networks in the VC community—built up through the industry’s extensive use of syndicated investing—diffuse information across boundaries and therefore expand the spatial radius of exchange. Venture capitalists that build axial positions in the industry’s coinvestment network invest more frequently in spatially distant companies. Thus, variation in actors’ positioning within the structure of the market appears to differentiate market participants’ ability to overcome boundaries that otherwise would curtail exchange.

American Journal of Sociology, 106 (2001): 1546-1588