Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises


Johan Wiklund


Entrepreneurship, Human Capital, Individual Characteristics

Subject Categories



This study seeks to understand the pathways of how an entrepreneur’s characteristics influence organizational outcomes. Entrepreneur’s characteristics have long been a central focus of entrepreneurship and strategy research (Cooper et al, 1994; Crook et al, 2011). Upper echelon theory, for instance, argues for the significant and direct impact of top management or an entrepreneur’ characteristics on organizational performance (Hambrick & Mason, 1984). Yet entrepreneurship is no longer a purely individual undertaking; its outcomes, rather, are contextualized. Accordingly, this study focuses on how organizational outcomes will differ depending on which pathways an entrepreneur takes throughout his or her entrepreneurial endeavors. To advance this analysis, three variables, which determine the pathways, will be considered. The determining variables are the internal relationships amongst team members; the external relationships with investors; and the chosen actions that the entrepreneur takes. These variables influence an entrepreneur in creating new ventures and have a substantive impact upon an entrepreneur’s cognition and behavior, as well as the outcomes of a new venture. These are the key questions which motivate my dissertation.

In Chapter 1, I focus on the first variable: internal relationships amongst team members. This chapter investigates how various types of an entrepreneur’s characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, education, industry experience, and founding experience) are influenced by the internal relationships between team members and highlights the importance of these relationships in the development of a new venture. This study explores particularly how familial relationships among team members diminish the impact of team diversity, created by entrepreneurs’ different characteristics, upon new venture development. This analysis represents a new direction in the literature on team diversity by considering relational embeddedness (Granovetter, 1985) beyond the workplace, a factor which has received scant attention in the literature on teams (Schjoedt et al., 2013). Chapter 2 focuses on the second variable: external relationships with investors. I interrogate the interactions between an entrepreneur’s characteristics and his or her external relationships, aware that these relationships are critical in helping new ventures overcome liabilities stemming from newness (Stinchcombe, 1965; Baum, Calabrese, & Silverman, 2000). This study demonstrates that each aspect of an entrepreneur’ human capital (education, industry experience, and founding experience) has a different impact across resource acquisition stages, and the relationships between prominent investors interact with an entrepreneur’ human capital in later funding stages. This paper advances a dynamic, temporal perspective of the signaling effects of different organizational characteristics. In Chapter 3, I focus on how the different aspects of an entrepreneur’s human capital (education, industry experience, and founding experience) influence an entrepreneur’s cognition, and trigger his or her idiosyncratic behaviors such as planning, actions, and inaction. This study shows that the entrepreneur’s idiosyncratic behaviors, rather than the entrepreneur’ human capital, result in distinct implications for firm performance in new venture creation.


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