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The application of principal-agent methods to investor-investee relations in the UK venture capital industry


  • Gavin C. Reid


This paper appeals to UK evidence on venture capital. The investor is regarded as the principal, and the investee as the agent. Relations between the two are analysed in terms of risk management, information handling, and the trading of risk and information. In the data analysed, investors and investees are paired in 'dyads'. The evidence on their behaviour and interaction was obtained by face-to-face interviews. A principal-agent model is developed to deal with incentives for entrepreneurial effort. From this, issues of information and monitoring naturally arise. Then the seeking of contract optimality in real contexts is examined, applying this framework to qualitative data. It is argued that evidence viewed in this way supports the application of principal-agent modelling to the financing of mature small firms by venture capitalists. The feature of contract optimality that was perceived to be most important was capital structure. There were several reasons for this: establishing ownership entitlement; creating incentives for effort; and apportioning risk efficiently. Often the observed relations between investor and investee were perceived to be at or close to optimality. It was found that these optima were specific to time and place, and strongly reflected the house-styles of individual investors and their reputations.

Suggested Citation

  • Gavin C. Reid, 1999. "The application of principal-agent methods to investor-investee relations in the UK venture capital industry," Venture Capital, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(4), pages 285-302, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:veecee:v:1:y:1999:i:4:p:285-302
    DOI: 10.1080/136910699295820

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    Cited by:

    1. Hanna Silvola, 2008. "Design of MACS in growth and revival stages of the organizational life-cycle," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 5(1), pages 27-47, March.
    2. Johansson Jeaneth M. & Malmstrom Malin, 2013. "The Business Model Transparency Paradox in Innovative Growth Ventures: Trade-offs between Competitive Advantages and Agency Costs," Entrepreneurship Research Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 238-263, January.
    3. Gavin C. Reid & Julia A. Smith, 2003. "Venture Capital and Risk in High-Technology Enterprises," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 2(3), pages 227-244, December.
    4. Wolf, Björn, 2006. "Empirische Untersuchung zu den Einflussfaktoren der Finanzierungsprobleme junger Unternehmen in Deutschland und deren Auswirkungen auf die Wirtschaftspolitik," Working Papers "Firms and Region" U1/2006, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
    5. Jesper Lindgaard Christensen, 2008. "The IPR System, Venture Capital and Capital Markets – Contributions and Distortions of Small Firm Innovation?," DRUID Working Papers 08-03, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    6. Edmund H. Mantell, 2008. "A Probabilistic Theory Of Entrepreneurial Financing," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 9(1), pages 177-197, May.
    7. José Martí Pellón & Marina Balboa, 2003. "Characterisation Of The Reputation Of Private Equity Managers: Evidence In Spain," Working Papers. Serie EC 2003-16, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

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