The influence of technology business accelerator networks on new venture performance : a mixed methods approach

科技行業加速器網絡對新創企業績效的影響 : 基於混合方法的研究

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Frederik Thorsten VON BRIEL

Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
Award date16 Feb 2015


New ventures are important for jobs, innovation, and economic growth. However, due to their inherent resource restriction, new ventures typically have to overcome various challenges on their way to profitability. As a result, access to networks that can help to overcome resource restrictions is considered as a critical success factor of new ventures. Business incubators (BIs), in turn, are organizations that are specialized in supporting the survival and growth of new ventures by providing them access to networks, infrastructure, and support services. In recent years a new type of BI has emerged called business accelerator (BA). BAs share the key characteristics of traditional BIs; yet, incubation takes only a few weeks or a month - not several years as in traditional BIs. During this short incubation period a type of intense boot camp takes place to accelerate the development of incubated new ventures (i.e., incubatees): for a limited period of time incubatees typically receive tailored education, access to specialized infrastructure, and, most importantly, access to extensive support networks, including mentors and other, often geographically dispersed, sources of knowledge to draw upon. BAs have played a role in the development of various successful ventures and are important actors in today’s new venture ecosystem. Consequently, it is important to understand how BAs contribute to new venture success. The purpose of this study is to identify: (1) How do business accelerator networks influence the success of incubated new ventures? (2) What factors influence the capability of incubated new ventures to exploit business accelerator networks? and (3) How do communication media influence incubatees' capability to leverage business accelerator networks? The study takes a mixed methods approach to answer these research questions and combines a qualitative interpretive case study method with a quantitative positivist social network analysis. In particular, the study draws on qualitative data that were collected via interviews with the personnel of one BA and founders of its incubated new ventures, internal and external documents, as well as quantitative data that were collected from incubated new ventures via survey. Analysis of the data takes place on two levels: the higher (ego) level analysis uses a case study method, takes a social capital perspective, and focuses on factors that influence incubatee success based on access to the BA network in general, whereas the lower (dyadic) level analysis combines a case study method with social network analysis, takes a media choice perspective, and focuses on factors that influence incubatees’ collaboration with individual actors from the network. Both levels are linked through overlapping core constructs, and findings are complementary, together providing a rich picture of the influence of incubator networks on success of new ventures. On the ego level, the study identifies three primary types of actors (i.e., structural social capital) to which BA networks provide access: other incubatees, mentors, and the BA personnel; potentially, all of them contribute to the success of incubatees. Factors that influence incubatees' capability to leverage these actors are their relationships to (i.e., relational social capital) and shared commitment (i.e., cognitive social capital) with these actors. The incubator management can foster development of both through network mediation, thus enabling incubatees to benefit from BA networks. On the dyadic level, the study identifies that the choice of communication media for collaboration with actors from the networks influences incubatees’ productivity during incubation, and thus their success. To avoid task fragmentation and achieve productivity, it is important that incubatees choose media that enable them to bring closure to tasks; however, the possibility to use such media is influenced by incubatees' relational and cognitive social capital. Overall, the study shows that BA networks contribute to incubatee success and that both relational and cognitive social capital are required for exploitation of BA networks.

    Research areas

  • Organizational effectiveness, Business incubators, New business enterprises.