Bringing Individuals Back In: The Effects of Career Experience on New Firm Founding (forthcoming Industrial and Corporate Change, 2003)
In this paper (with Scott Shane) the link between the career experiences of potential entrepreneurs and the decision to found a new firm is explored. Because of methodological and theoretical obstacles, sociological research on organizational foundings has largely focused on societal and population level factors to explain firm foundings. This paper takes the view that understanding firm foundings also requires linking to micro-level processes. We suggest that careers are a useful way to link individual-level processes to firm foundings. We test our explanation on the population of inventions patented at MIT over the 1980-1996 period and examine the effect of inventors' prior experiences on the probability that an invention will be commercialized through the founding of a new organization. This paper received the 2001 Academy of Management Best Paper award in the Organization and Management Theory division .