Do Accelerators Work? If So, How?

65 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2016 Last revised: 5 Apr 2019

See all articles by Benjamin L. Hallen

Benjamin L. Hallen

University of Washington - Department of Management & Organization

Susan Cohen

University of Georgia - Terry College

Christopher Bingham

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Date Written: April 3, 2019

Abstract

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 continue 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 mechanisms other than learning, such as sorting or signaling. Drawing on mixed empirical methods that include proprietary data on the ventures accepted and “almost accepted” to a set of top accelerators, we find evidence that some, but not all, of the early accelerators we study substantially aid and accelerate venture development. We also find some evidence of sorting dynamics. These findings are corroborated using an auxiliary quantitative dataset constructed from publicly observable data. Complementary qualitative fieldwork suggests a key driver of these accelerator effects is a novel learning mechanism we label broad, intensive, and paced consultation. The implication of these insights is that the practices of early accelerators represent a beneficial and likely replicable form of intervention that may also have relevance for independent entrepreneurs, educational programs, and corporate innovation.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Organizational Learning, Accelerators, Venture Capital

JEL Classification: M13

Suggested Citation

Hallen, Benjamin L. and cohen, susan and Bingham, Christopher, Do Accelerators Work? If So, How? (April 3, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2719810 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2719810

Benjamin L. Hallen (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Department of Management & Organization ( email )

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

Susan Cohen

University of Georgia - Terry College ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.terry.uga.edu/directory/profile/sc81821/

Christopher Bingham

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

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