Date of Award
PhD in Business
Department of Mathematical Sciences: Business Analytics
Research universities execute technology transfer initiatives to transition university inventions to marketplace innovations. This process requires ties to bridge the gap between two disparate networks: a university's research community and a licensing corporate entity. One type of licensing corporate entity, and the focus of this research, is a newly formed university spinout. Utilizing a network lens, this study focuses on the ties between university inventors and spinout licensees and on the impact of various inter-organizational relationships on a spinout's success. This thesis investigates the following research questions: 1. How, if at all, does variation in the nature of the tie between the university inventor(s) and a spinout impact the new firm's ability to raise venture funding and what are the implications for network theory? 2. How, if at all, does a university inventor's participation with a university spinout impact his/her research publication and invention productivity and what are the implications for academic productivity models? and 3. How, if at all, do early-stage spinout networks evolve prior to raising venture funding? Our research findings indicate that: 1. Early-stage venture investors view spinout ties to either the inventor or to their research network as "outcome equivalent" when making investment decisions. 2. The impact of inventor-spinout tie strength variation can only be properly interpreted within the context of the spinout's overall ties to the university inventor's research network. 3. Faculty involvement with university spinouts does not substantially impact their publishing productivity. 4. The involvement of faculty with physically proximate spinouts has a positive impact on their academic productivity. 5. The involvement of faculty with multiple spinouts simultaneously has a negative impact on their academic productivity. 6. Early-stage university spinout inter-organizational networks are not dense and their network dynamics are highly constrained. 7. Early-stage pre-VC funded networks establish strong ties with technical nodes. And 8. Venture capital funders geographically cluster around licensing universities. These findings contribute to network theory in the following ways. This thesis identifies the concept of "outcome equivalence" as a critical construct for comparison of tie impact in heterogeneous networks. It determines that effective tie strength is contingent upon the nature of the networks being bridged. It suggests that in complex networks scale and proximity can change the impact of moderating elements on productivity outcomes. Finally it identifies the highly constrained network dynamics of early-stage networks where change occurs sporadically during periods of punctuated equilibrium driven by node fitness improvements.
McHugh, Patrick, "Ties that Bind: A Network Perspective on University Spinouts". 2013. 11.