How human capital interacts with the early development of academic spin-offs

  • Sven H. De CleynEmail author
  • Johan Braet
  • Magnus Klofsten


This paper focuses on venture team characteristics with respect to human capital dimensions in early stage ventures emerging from academic research (institutions). Three major groups have been investigated: founders, top managers and directors. Data was obtained using personal interviews with 185 product-oriented academic spin-offs in nine European countries, including those of 17 failures. The results show a significant positive—but diminishing—impact of team heterogeneity on venture success, as well as a positive impact from legal expertise within the board of directors. At management level, the results further indicate that larger management team are better equipped to face the challenges in academic spin-offs. Furthermore, the added value of serial entrepreneurs is questioned, since they seem to negatively impact a spin-off’s survival chances. Several implications are addressed, dealing with an appropriate team composition (on the levels of both top management and the board of directors) as well as the importance of paying attention to team development.


Academic spin-offs Human capital Team characteristics Early development Failure Survival 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support received from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO Vlaanderen) on behalf of Sven H. De Cleyn, as PhD fellow, during the data collection and analysis period. Furthermore, the authors would like to express their gratitude towards all entrepreneurs that contributed to this research project. The first version of this paper was presented at the 2011 Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference and published in the 2011 edition of Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven H. De Cleyn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johan Braet
    • 1
  • Magnus Klofsten
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Applied EconomicsUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Management and EconomicsLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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