Do Accelerators Accelerate? If So, How? The Impact of Intensive Learning from Others on New Venture Development
59 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2016 Last revised: 31 Dec 2017
Date Written: July 8, 2016
A fundamental challenge for entrepreneurial ventures is overcoming liabilities of newness – particularly, lack of relevant knowledge. Accelerators are entrepreneurial programs that attempt to help ventures learn, often utilizing extensive consultation with mentors, program directors, customers, guest speakers, alumni and peers. While accelerators have rapidly emerged as prominent players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and academics have continued to raise questions about their efficacy. Moreover, relevant organizational literature suggests that even if accelerators are associated with better venture outcomes, results could be due to non-learning mechanisms such as selection, sorting, or signaling. Drawing on mixed empirical methods that triangulate across multiple qualitative and quantitative samples, we consistently find evidence that some, but not all, of the early accelerators we study causally aid and accelerate venture development. Our triangulated analyses indicate the positive effects of accelerators are substantially driven by learning via consultation, though we also find evidence of selection, sorting, and signaling. Intriguingly, our results also indicate accelerator participation complements rather than substitutes for many forms of founder pre-entry experience. The implication of these insights is that – if structured correctly – the practices of early accelerators represent a beneficial and likely replicable form of entrepreneurial intervention.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Organizational Learning, Accelerators, Venture Capital
JEL Classification: M13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation