How Do Entrepreneurial Founding Teams Allocate Task Positions?

Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming

INSEAD Working Paper No. 2015/95/EFE/TOM

61 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2015

Date Written: December 1, 2015


How do founding team members allocate task positions when launching new ventures? Answering this question is important because prior work shows both that founding team members often have correlated expertise, thus making task position allocation problematic; and initial occupants of task positions exert a lingering effect on venture outcomes. We draw on status characteristics theory to derive predictions on how co-founders’ specific expertise cues and diffuse status cues drive initial task position allocation. We also examine the performance consequences of mismatches between the task position and position occupant. Qualitative fieldwork combined with a quasi-experimental simulation game and an experiment provides causal tests of the conceptual framework. We find that co-founders whose diffuse status cues of gender (male), ethnicity (white) or achievement (occupational prestige or academic honors) indicated general ability were typical occupants of higher ranked positions, such as CEO role, within the founding team. In addition, specific expertise cues that indicated relevant ability predicted task position allocation. Founding teams created more financially valuable ventures when task position occupants’ diffuse status cues were typical for the position; nonetheless position occupants with high diffuse status cues also appropriated more of the created value. Our results inform both entrepreneurship and status characteristics literature.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Teams, Status Characteristics, New Ventures

Suggested Citation

Jung, HeeJung and Vissa, Balagopal and Pich, Michael Thomas, How Do Entrepreneurial Founding Teams Allocate Task Positions? (December 1, 2015). Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming, INSEAD Working Paper No. 2015/95/EFE/TOM, Available at SSRN: or

HeeJung Jung

Imperial College London ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Balagopal Vissa (Contact Author)

INSEAD ( email )

F-77305 Fontainebleau Cedex

Michael Thomas Pich

INSEAD ( email )

1 Ayer Rajah Avenue
Singapore, 138676
+65 6799 5336 (Phone)
+65 6799 5446 (Fax)


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