Surrogate Entrepreneurs in Academic Spinoffs - a Needed but Uwanted Addition?

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Despite the increasing interest of scholars in academic spinoffs, there is limited attention paid to the formation of spinoff teams. A particularly intriguing question is why some spinoffs add a surrogate entrepreneur, while others do not, despite the fact that the average researcher lacks business-related competencies. In this study, we explore how researchers perceive the addition of a surrogate entrepreneur to their early-stage commercialization effort, and what individual-level factors lead to differences in their perceptions. Our findings suggest a Dunning-Kruger style effect, as researchers possessing either no or extensive experience outside academia find the addition of a surrogate important. On the contrary, researchers with only low experience in the business domain or with related entrepreneurship training are “stuck in the middle,” not considering adding a surrogate entrepreneur to their emerging spinoff. Furthermore, researchers who have low industry collaborations do not find the surrogate entrepreneur important at the beginning of their commercialization effort, while those with medium and high levels of industry collaborations tend to recognize their own limitations at the initial stages of spinning out, and consider adding a surrogate entrepreneur early on. A fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) corroborates these findings and shows that both the researchers with no or with extensive experience outside academia who also sustain relationships with industrial partners value the addition of a surrogate entrepreneur. On the flip side, the use of external consultants seems to reinforce the belief of the researchers with low business-related qualifications that they know what they need to know for spinning out. Important theoretical and policy implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event82nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management - Seattle, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
Conference number: 82


Conference82nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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