The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 29, Issue 3–4, pp 247–268 | Cite as

How and Why do Research-Based Start-Ups Differ at Founding? A Resource-Based Configurational Perspective

  • Ans Heirman
  • Bart Clarysse


This paper studies the initial resources on which new organizations are based and how these resources interact with the institutional origin and market characteristics. Using a unique hand-collected data set of research-based start-ups (RBSUs), we empirically test how technological, financial and human resources relate to each other to form distinct starting resource configurations. We find four different start- ing configurations: “venture capital-backed start-ups,” “prospectors,” “product start-ups” and “transitional start-ups”. The results show that VC-backed start-ups are a minority while half of the firms start as prospectors. Market complexity and growth prospects influence the probability of starting with venture capital. The unclearness of the product market at founding characterizes prospectors, while product start-ups mostly have an almost market-ready product targeted at an international niche market. Transitional starters initially commercialize technical know-how through consulting and become product oriented later on. This discussion contributes to the debate concerning the interplay of environment and firm resources.


Human Resource Venture Capital Industrial Organization Product Market Technology Management 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Acs, Z.J. and D.B. Audretsch, 1990, Innovation and Technological Change. An International Comparison, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aldrich, H. and M. Fiol, 1994, ‘Fools Rush in? The Institutional Context of Industry Creation,’ Academy of Management Review 19(4), 645-670.Google Scholar
  3. Amit, R. and C. Zott, 2001, ‘Value Creation in E-Business,’ Strategic Management Journal 22(6/7), 493-520.Google Scholar
  4. Arthur, W.B., 1988, ‘Competing Technologies: An Overview,’ in G. Dosi et al. Technical Change and Economic Theory, NY: Columbia University Press, pp. 509-607.Google Scholar
  5. Autio, E., 1997, ‘New, Technology-Based Firms in Innovation Networks: Symplectic and Generative Impacts,’ Research Policy 26, 263-281.Google Scholar
  6. Autio, E. and A. Lumme, 1998, ‘Does the Innovator Role Affect the Perceived Potential for Growth? Analysis of Four Types of New, Technology-Based Firms,’ Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 10(1), 41-54.Google Scholar
  7. Barney, J.B., 1991, ‘Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage,’ Journal of Management 17(1), 99-120.Google Scholar
  8. Baum, J.A.C. and J.V. Singh, 1994, ‘Organizational Niches and the Dynamics of Organizational Mortality,’ American Journal of Sociology 100(2), 346-380.Google Scholar
  9. Birley, S. and P. Westhead, 1994, ‘A Taxonomy of Business Start-Up Reasons and their Impact on Firm Growth and Size,’ Journal of Business Venturing 9, 7-31.Google Scholar
  10. Brush, C.G., P.G. Greene, and M.M. Hart, 2001, ‘From Initial Idea to Unique Advantage: The Entrepreneurial Challenge of Constructing a Resource Base,’ Academy of Management Executive 15(1), 64-78.Google Scholar
  11. Burton, M.D., J.B. Sorensen, and C.M. Beckman, 2002, ‘Coming from Good Stock: Career Histories and New Venture Formation,’ Social Structure and Organizations Revisited 19, 229-262.Google Scholar
  12. Cantwell, J. and S. Iammarino, 2001, ‘EU Regions and Multinational Corporations: Change, Stability and Strengthening of Technological Comparative Advantages,’ Industrial and Corporate Change 10(4), 1007-1037.Google Scholar
  13. Carter, N.M., T.M. Stearns, P.D. Reynolds, and B.A. Miller, 1994, ‘New Venture Strategies: Theory Development with an Empirical Base,’ Strategic Management Journal 15, 21-41.Google Scholar
  14. Chandler, G. and S.H. Hanks, 1994, ‘Market Attractiveness, Resource-Based Capabilities, Venture Strategies and Venture Performance,’ Journal of Business Venturing 9(4), 331-349.Google Scholar
  15. Chandler, G. and S.H. Hanks, 1998, ‘An Examination of the Substitutability of Founders Human and Financial Capital in Emerging Business Ventures,’ Journal of Business Venturing 13, 353-369.Google Scholar
  16. Chen, T.J., 2003, ‘Network Resources for Internationalization: The Case of Taiwan's Electronics Firms,’ The Journal of Management Studies 40(5), 1107-1130.Google Scholar
  17. Christensen, C.M., 1997, The Innovator's Dilemma, NY: HarperBusiness, p. 286.Google Scholar
  18. Clarysse, B., A. Heirman, and J.J. Degroof, 2001, ‘Het Fenomeen Spin-Off in België,’ VTO Studies 21, ISBN 806488.Google Scholar
  19. Clarysse, B., M. Wright, A. Lockett, E. Van de Velde, and A. Vohora, 2004, ‘Spinning Out New Ventures: A Typology of Strategies from European Research Institutions,’ in Journal of Business Venturing, in press.Google Scholar
  20. Cohen, W.M. and D.A. Levinthal, 1990, ‘Absorptive Capacity: A New Perspective on Learning and Innovation,’ Administrative Science Quarterly 35, 128-152.Google Scholar
  21. Collis, D., 1991, ‘A Resource-Based Analysis of Global Competition: The Case of the Bearings Industry,’ Strategic Management Journal 12, 49-68.Google Scholar
  22. Conner, K.R., 1991, ‘A Historical Comparison of Resource-Based Theory and Five Schools of Thought within Industrial Organization Economics,’ Journal of Management 17, 121-154.Google Scholar
  23. Covin, J.G. and D.P. Slevin, 1990, ‘New Venture Strategic Posture, Structure, and Performance: An Industry Life Cycle Analysis,’ Journal of Business Venturing 5(2), 123-135.Google Scholar
  24. Covin, J.G., J.E. Prescott, and D.P. Slevin, 1990, ‘The Effects of Technological Sophistication on Strategic Profiles, Structure and Firm Performance,’ The Journal of Management Studies 27(5), 485-511.Google Scholar
  25. David, P.A., 1985, ‘Clio and the Economics of QWERTY,’ American Economic Review 75(2), 332-337.Google Scholar
  26. Debackere, K., H. Vermeulen, B. Van Looy, and E. Zimmerman, 1998, ‘Financiering van innovatie in Vlaanderen. Het aanbod van risicokapitaal,’ VTO-series 15, 55.Google Scholar
  27. Deeds, D.L., D. DeCarolis, and J. Coombs, 1999, ‘Dynamic Capabilities and New Product Development in High Technology Ventures: An Empirical Analysis of New Biotechnology Firms,’ Journal of Business Venturing 15, 211-229.Google Scholar
  28. DSTI 1997/2. Hatzichronoglou, T., 1997, Revision of the High-Technology Sector and Product Classification. OECD/GD(97)216, Working Document.Google Scholar
  29. Eisenhardt, K. and B.N. Trabrizi, 1995, ‘Accelerating Adaptive Processes: Product Innovation in the Global Computer Industry,’ Administrative Science Quarterly 40, 84-110.Google Scholar
  30. Feeser, H.R. and G.E. Willard, 1990, ‘Founding Strategy and Performance: A Comparison of High and Low Growth High Tech Firms,’ Strategic Management Journal 11, 87-98.Google Scholar
  31. Friesen, P.H. and D. Miller, 1986, ‘A Mathematical Model of the Adaptive behavior of Organizations,’ The Journal of Management Studies 23(1), 1-26.Google Scholar
  32. Galbraith, C. and D. Schendel, 1983, ‘An Empirical Analysis of Strategy Types,’ Strategic Management Journal 4, 153-173.Google Scholar
  33. Galunic, D.C. and S. Rodan, 1998, ‘Resource Combinations in the Firm: Knowledge Structures and the Potential for Schumpeterian Innovation,’ Strategic Management Journal 19(12), 473-496.Google Scholar
  34. Gartner, W.B., 1985, ‘A Conceptual Framework for Describing the Phenomenon of New Venture Creation,’ Academy of Management Review 10(4), 696-706.Google Scholar
  35. Hair, J.F. Jr., R.E. Anderson, R.L. Tatham, and W.C. Black, 1992, Multivariate Data Analysis with Readings, 3rd ed. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  36. Hambrick, D.C., 1983, ‘An Empirical Typology of Mature Industrial-Product Environments,’ Academy of Management Journal 26(2), 213-220.Google Scholar
  37. Hanks, S.H., C.J. Watson, E. Jansen, and G.N. Chandler, 1993, ‘Tightening the Life-Cycle Construct: A Taxonomic Study of Growth Stage Configurations in High-Technology Organizations,’ Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice Winter, 5-29.Google Scholar
  38. Hellmann, T. and M. Puri, 2000a, ‘The Interaction Between Product Market and Financing Stratey: The Role of Venture Capital,’ The Review of Financial Studies 13(4), 959-984.Google Scholar
  39. Hellman, T. and M. Puri, 2000b, ‘Venture Capital and the Professionalization of Start-up Firms: Empirical Evidence, Working Paper Stanford University,’ p. 44.Google Scholar
  40. Henderson, R., 1993, ‘Underinvestment and Incompetence as Responses to Radical Innovation: Evidence from the Photolithographic Alignment Equipment Industry,’ RAND Journal of Economics 24(2), 248-270.Google Scholar
  41. Hofer, C.W. and W.R. Sandberg, 1987, ‘Improving New Venture Performance: The Role of Strategy, Industry Structure and the Entrepreneur,’ Journal of Business Venturing (1), 5-28.Google Scholar
  42. Kazanjian, R.K. and R. Drazin, 1990, ‘A Stage-Contingent Model of Design and Growth for Technology-Based New Ventures,’ Journal of Business Venturing 5, 137-150.Google Scholar
  43. Ketchen, D. and C.L. Shook, 1996, ‘The Application of Cluster Analysis in Strategic Management Research: An Analysis and Critique,’ Strategic Management Journal 17, 441-458.Google Scholar
  44. Ketchen, D.J., J.G. Combs, C.J. Russell, et al., 1997, ‘Organizational Configurations and Performance: A Meta-Analysis,’ Academy of Management Journal 40(1), 223-240.Google Scholar
  45. Lee, C., K. Lee, and J.M. Pennings, 2001, ‘Internal Capabilities, External Networks, and Performance: A Study of Technology-Based Ventures,’ Strategic Management Journal 22, 615-640.Google Scholar
  46. Lewin, E.E. and D.C. Bello, 1997, ‘Marketing Innovative Technology to Institutional Buyers in Eductational Settings,’ The Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 12(1), 7-21.Google Scholar
  47. Lewin, A.Y. and H.W. Volberda, 1999, ‘Prolegomena on Coevolution: A Framework for Research on Strategy and New Organizational Forms,’ Organization Science 10(5), 519-534.Google Scholar
  48. Lichtenstein, B.M.B. and C.G. Brush, 2001, ‘How Do “Resource Bundles” Develop and Change in New Ventures? A Dynamic Model and Longitudinal Exploration,’ Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice Spring, 37-58.Google Scholar
  49. Lloyd, S. and G. Royston, 1995, ‘Venture Capitalist Relationships in the Deal Structuring and Post-Investment Stages of New Firm Creation,’ The Journal of Management Studies 32(3), 337-358.Google Scholar
  50. Lockett, A., M. Wright, and S. Franklin, 2003, ‘Technology Transfer and Universities' Spin-Out Strategies,’ Small Business Economics 20(2), 185-206.Google Scholar
  51. Lumpkin, G.T. and G.G. Dess, 1996, ‘Clarifying the Entrepreneurial Orientation Construct and Linking it to Performance,’ Academy of Management Review 21(1), 135-172.Google Scholar
  52. MacMillan, I.C., R. Siegel, and P.N.S. Narasimha, 1985, ‘Criteria Used by Venture Capitalists to Evaluate New Venture Proposals,’ Journal of Business Venturing 1, 119-128.Google Scholar
  53. Manigart, S., K. Bayens, and W. Van Hyfte, 2002, ‘The Survival of Venture Capital Backed Companies,’ Venture Capital 4(2), 103-124.Google Scholar
  54. Manigart, S. and W. Hyfte, 1999, ‘Financiering van innovatie in Vlaanderen. De venture capital sector in internationaal perspectief,’ VTO-series 24, p. 44.Google Scholar
  55. Manigart, S. and C. Struyf, 1996, ‘Financing High Technology Start-Ups In Belgium: An Explorative Study,’ Small Business Economics 9, 125-135.Google Scholar
  56. Meyers, P.W. and G.A. Athaide, 1991, ‘Strategic Mutual Learning Between Producing and Buying Firms During Product Innovation,’ Journal of Product Innovation Management 8, 155-169.Google Scholar
  57. Meyer, M.H., P. Tertzakian, and J.M. Utterback, 1997, ‘Metrics for Managing Research and Development in the Context of the Product Family,’ Management Science 43(1), 88-111.Google Scholar
  58. Miles, R.E. and C.C. Snow, 1978, Organizational Strategy, Structure, and Process, New-York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  59. Miles, R.E., C.C. Snow, A.D. Meyer, and H.J. Coleman, 1978, ‘Organizational Strategy, Structure, and Process,’ Academy of Management Review July, 546-562.Google Scholar
  60. Miller, D. and P. Friesen, 1980, ‘Archetypes of Organizational Transition,’ Administrative Science Quarterly 25, 268-299.Google Scholar
  61. Miller, D. and H. Mintzberg, 1984, ‘The Case for Configuration,’ in D. Miller and P.H. Friesen (eds.), Organizations: A Quantum View, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, pp. 125-170.Google Scholar
  62. Mosakowski, E. 1993, ‘A Resource-Based Perspective on the Dynamic Strategy Performance Relationship: An Empirical Examination,’ Journal of Management 19(4), 819-839.Google Scholar
  63. Nelson, R.R. 1991, ‘Why do Firms Differ, and How Does It Matter?’ Strategic Management Journal 12, 61-74.Google Scholar
  64. Oviatt, B.M. and P.P. McDougall, 1994 ‘Toward a Theory of International New Ventures,’ Journal of International Business Studies First Quarter, 45-64.Google Scholar
  65. Penrose, E.T. 1959, The Theory of the Growth of the Firm, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  66. Priem, R.L. and J.E. Butler, 2001, ‘Is the Resource-Based “View” a Useful Perspective for Strategic Management Research?’ Academy of Management Review 26(1), 22-40.Google Scholar
  67. Quinn, R.E. and K. Cameron, 1983, ‘Organizational Life Cycles and Shifting Criteria of Effectiveness: Some Preliminary Evidence,’ Management Science 29(1), 33-51.Google Scholar
  68. Roberts, E.B., 1991, Entrepreneurs in High Technology. Lessons from MIT and Beyond, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Rumelt, R. 1987, ‘Theory, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship,’ in D. Teece, (ed.), The Competitive Challenge for Industrial Innovation and Renewal, Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, pp. 137-158.Google Scholar
  70. Saxenian, A., 1994, Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, p. 226.Google Scholar
  71. Schoonhoven, C.B., K.M. Eisenhardt, and K. Lyman, 1990, ‘Speeding Products to Market: Waiting Time to First Product Introduction in New Firms,’ Administrative Science Quarterly 35, 177-207.Google Scholar
  72. Schumpeter, J., 1934, The Theory of Economic Development, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Shane, S., 2001, ‘Technological Opportunities and New Firm Creation,’ Management Science 47(2), 205-220.Google Scholar
  74. Shane, S. and T. Stuart, 2002, ‘Organizational Endowments and the Performance of University Start-Ups,’ Management Science 48(1), 154-170.Google Scholar
  75. Stinchcombe, A.L., 1965, ‘Social Structure and Organizations,’ in J.G. March (ed.), Handbook of Organizations, Chicago: Rand-McNally&Co, pp. 142-194.Google Scholar
  76. Storey, D.J. and B.S. Tether, 1998, ‘Public Policy Measures to Support New Technology-Based Firms in the European Union,’ Research Policy 26, 1037-1057.Google Scholar
  77. Stuart, T.E., H. Hoang, and R.C. Hybels, 1999, ‘Interorganizational Endorsements and the Performance of Entrepreneurial Ventures,’ Administrative Science Quarterly 44, 315-349.Google Scholar
  78. Teece, D.J., G. Pisano, and A. Shuen, 1997, ‘Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management,’ Strategic Management Journal 18(7), 509-533.Google Scholar
  79. Tiler, C., S. Metcalfe, and D. Connell, 1993, ‘Business Expansion Through Entrepreneurship: The Influence of Internal and External Barriers to Growth,’ in M. Dodgson and R. Rothwell, (eds.), International Journal of Technology Management, Special Publication on Small Firms and Innovation, pp. 119-132.Google Scholar
  80. Utterback, J.M., M. Meyer, E. Roberts, and G. Reitberger, 1988, ‘Technology and Industrial Innovation in Sweden: A Study of Technology-Based Firms Formed Between 1965 and 1980,’ Research Policy 17, 15-26.Google Scholar
  81. Utterback, J.M. and F.F. Suárez, 1993, ‘Innovation, Competition and Industry Structure,’ Research Policy 22, 1-21.Google Scholar
  82. Van de Ven, A.H., R. Hudson, and D.M. Schroder, 1984, ‘Designing New Business Start-Up's Entrepreneurial, Organizational, and Ecological Considerations,’ Journal of Management 10, 87-107.Google Scholar
  83. Wernerfelt, B., 1984, ‘A Resource-Based View of the Firm,’ Strategic Management Journal 5, 171-180.Google Scholar
  84. West, G.P. III, and J. DeCastro, 2001, ‘The Achilles Heel of Firm Strategy: Resource Weaknesses and Distinctive Inadequacies,’ The Journal of Management Studies, 38(3), 417-438.Google Scholar
  85. Wiklund, J. and D. Shepherd, 2003, ‘Knowledge-Based Resources, Entrepreneurial Orientation, and the Performance of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses,’ Strategic Management Journal 24, 1307-1314.Google Scholar
  86. Woo, C.Y., U. Daellenbach, and C. Nicholls-Nixon, 1994, ‘Theory Building in the Presence of “Randomness”: The Case of Venture Creation and Performance,’ The Journal of Management Studies, 31(4), 507-524.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ans Heirman
    • 1
  • Bart Clarysse
    • 1
  1. 1.Gent Management SchoolGhent University/Vlerick LeuvenGentBelgium

Personalised recommendations