The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 92–112 | Cite as

Exploring board formation and evolution of board composition in academic spin-offs

  • Ekaterina S. BjørnåliEmail author
  • Magnus Gulbrandsen


An in-depth analysis of 11 cases is used to provide insight into the neglected area of the dynamics of boards in academic spin-offs. Drawing on stage-based, resource dependence, and social network theories, we explore board formation and changes in board composition occurring in Norwegian and US spin-offs. We find that these theories are important complements to earlier research on boards in technology-based new ventures. The process of board formation is mainly driven by social networks of the founders. Although we find differences in the initial board compositions in Norwegian and US spin-offs, there is convergence over time in subsequent board changes, which are mainly driven by the social networks of the board chair. Additions of key board members are associated with the progress of a spin-off developing from one stage to another. Several avenues for future research and implications are discussed.


Boards of directors Academic spin-offs Stages Resources Social networks 

JEL Classification

M13 M10 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful suggestions of the anonymous reviewers and would like to thank Andrew Nelson, SCANCOR, and IØT seminar participants for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ekaterina S. Bjørnåli
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Magnus Gulbrandsen
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Technology (AFT)Sør-Trøndelag University College (HIST)TrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management (IØT)Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway
  3. 3.NIFU STEPOsloNorway
  4. 4.Centre for Advanced StudyNorwegian Academy of Science and LettersOsloNorway

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