Specialization and Success: Evidence from Venture Capital

28 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2009

See all articles by Paul A. Gompers

Paul A. Gompers

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Anna Kovner

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

This paper examines how organizational structure affects behavior and outcomes, studying the performance of different types of venture capital organizations. We find a strong positive relationship between the degree of specialization by individual venture capitalists at a firm and its success. When the individual investment professionals are highly specialized themselves, the marginal effect of increasing overall firm specialization is much weaker. The poorer performance by generalists appears to be due to both an inefficient allocation of funding across industries and poor selection of investments within industries. Venture capital organizations with more experience tend to outperform those with less experience.

Suggested Citation

Gompers, Paul A. and Kovner, Anna and Lerner, Josh, Specialization and Success: Evidence from Venture Capital. Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Vol. 18, Issue 3, pp. 817-844, Fall 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1486839 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-9134.2009.00230.x

Paul A. Gompers (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6297 (Phone)
617-496-8443 (Fax)

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

Anna Kovner

Federal Reserve Bank of New York ( email )

33 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10045
United States

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6065 (Phone)
617-496-7357 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/jlerner/

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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