Article | Academy of Management Journal | October 2015

Exposed: Venture Capital, Competitor Ties, and Entrepreneurial Innovation

by Emily Cox Pahnke, Rory McDonald, Dan Wang and Benjamin Hallen


This paper investigates the impact of early relationships on innovation at entrepreneurial firms. Prior research has largely focused on the benefits of network ties, documenting the many advantages that accrue to firms embedded in a rich network of inter-organizational relationships. In contrast, we build on research emphasizing potential drawbacks to examine how competitive exposure, enabled by powerful intermediaries, can inhibit innovation. We develop the concept of competitive information leakage, which occurs when firms are indirectly tied to their competitors via shared intermediary organizations. To test our theory, we examine every relationship between entrepreneurial firms and their venture capital investors in the minimally-invasive surgical segment of the medical device industry over a 22-year period. We find that indirect ties to competitors impede innovation, and that this effect is moderated by several factors related to the intermediary's opportunities and motivation to leak important information.

Keywords: Competition; Intellectual Property; Innovation and Invention; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry;


Pahnke, Emily Cox, Rory McDonald, Dan Wang, and Benjamin Hallen. "Exposed: Venture Capital, Competitor Ties, and Entrepreneurial Innovation." Academy of Management Journal 58, no. 5 (October 2015): 1334–1360.