Are Foreign Stem Phds More Entrepreneurial? Entrepreneurial Characteristics, Preferences and Employment Outcomes of Native and Foreign Science & Engineering Phd Students

26 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2019 Last revised: 17 Sep 2019

See all articles by Michael Roach

Michael Roach

Cornell University

Henry Sauermann

ESMT European School of Management and Technology

John Skrentny

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: September 2019

Abstract

Prior research has shown that immigrants make important contributions to US innovation and are more likely than natives to become entrepreneurs. However, there is little evidence on how foreign and native high-skilled workers differ prior to entering the workforce. Moreover, little attention has been paid to distinguishing between founders and employees who join startups. We draw on a longitudinal survey of over 5,600 foreign and native STEM PhD students at U.S. research universities to examine entrepreneurial characteristics and career preferences prior to graduation, as well as founding and employment outcomes after graduation. First, we find that foreign PhD students differ from native PhD students with respect to individual characteristics typically associated with entrepreneurship such as risk tolerance, a preference for autonomy, and interest in commercialization. Second, foreign PhD students are more likely to express intentions to become a founder or a startup employee prior to graduation. Third, despite their entrepreneurial career interests, foreign PhDs are less likely to become founders or startup employees in their first industry job after graduation. These patterns call for future research on factors that enable or constrain foreign STEM workers from realizing their entrepreneurial career aspirations.

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Suggested Citation

Roach, Michael and Sauermann, Henry and Skrentny, John, Are Foreign Stem Phds More Entrepreneurial? Entrepreneurial Characteristics, Preferences and Employment Outcomes of Native and Foreign Science & Engineering Phd Students (September 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26225, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3450251

Michael Roach (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
SC Johnson College of Business
Ithaca, NY
United States

Henry Sauermann

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

John Skrentny

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

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