Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas H. Brush

Second Advisor

Jeffrey J. Reuer

Committee Member 1

Thomas H. Brush

Committee Member 2

Jeffrey J. Reuer

Committee Member 3

Umit Ozmel

Committee Member 4

Alfonso Gambardella


In this dissertation, I unpack startup founders’ characteristics and investigate their impact on the performance of young high-tech startups. I distinguish specific aspects of founders that convey their unobservable quality and human capital, and advance new arguments that deepen our understanding about founders’ role in shaping the prospects and performance of young high-tech startups. In particular, I examine founders’ distinct technical and entrepreneurial credentials that have the effect of facilitating important milestones for startups, such as strategic alliances and initial public offering, which ensure startups’ growth and survival. Further, I also investigate the contingent effects of these credentials of startup founders on the degree of uncertainty that prevails for potential alliances partners and investors about startups’ underlying quality. In three essays that comprise this dissertation, I find evidence that startup founders’ scientific and entrepreneurial credentials promote favorable cooperative commercialization agreements for startups with alliances partners and accelerate their initial public offerings. I also find evidence that these distinct credentials of founders are more useful when there is higher uncertainty about startups’ quality. These findings have important implications for research in strategy and entrepreneurship about the significance and enduring impact of