Do Accelerators Accelerate? The Role of Indirect Learning in New Venture Development

39 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2016 Last revised: 14 Aug 2016

Benjamin L. Hallen

University of Washington - Department of Management & Organization

Christopher Bingham

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Susan Cohen

University of Richmond

Date Written: July 8, 2016

Abstract

A fundamental challenge for new ventures is overcoming liabilities of newness - particularly, lack of relevant knowledge. Accelerators, intense, time-compressed entrepreneurial programs, attempt to alleviate these liabilities by providing ventures with intensive learning. While accelerators have rapidly emerged as prominent players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and other practitioners have continued to raise questions about their efficacy. Mirroring such concerns, extant organizational theories offer competing predictions about whether and for which ventures accelerator participation might be beneficial. Drawing on hybrid empirical methods that triangulate across multiple quantitative and qualitative analyses, we consistently find evidence that many accelerators do indeed aid and accelerate venture development and that their effects are neither due purely to selection or credentialing. Intriguingly, our results also indicate that accelerator participation complements rather than substitutes for many forms of prior founder experience (e.g., having worked for a company that produces a lot of startups). Overall, we contribute by pioneering work on the nature and outcomes of accelerators, offering insight into the fundamental value of intensive indirect learning (vs direct learning) in new ventures and extending understanding of how organizations may speed products and services to market.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Organizational Learning, Accelerators, Venture Capital

JEL Classification: M13

Suggested Citation

Hallen, Benjamin L. and Bingham, Christopher and Cohen, Susan, Do Accelerators Accelerate? The Role of Indirect Learning in New Venture Development (July 8, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2719810

Benjamin L. Hallen (Contact Author)

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

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

Christopher Bingham

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

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Susan Cohen

University of Richmond ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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