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Specialization and Success: Evidence from Venture Capital

In: Entrepreneurship: Strategy and Structure


  • Paul Gompers
  • Anna Kovner
  • Josh Lerner


"This paper examines how organizational structure affects behavior and outcomes, studying the performance of different types of venture capital organizations. We find a strong positive relationship between the degree of specialization by individual venture capitalists at a firm and its success. When the individual investment professionals are highly specialized themselves, the marginal effect of increasing overall firm specialization is much weaker. The poorer performance by generalists appears to be due to both an inefficient allocation of funding across industries and poor selection of investments within industries. Venture capital organizations with more experience tend to outperform those with less experience." Copyright (c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..
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Suggested Citation

  • Paul Gompers & Anna Kovner & Josh Lerner, 2007. "Specialization and Success: Evidence from Venture Capital," NBER Chapters,in: Entrepreneurship: Strategy and Structure National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:3048

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2004. "Characteristics, Contracts, and Actions: Evidence from Venture Capitalist Analyses," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(5), pages 2177-2210, October.
    2. Steven N. Kaplan & Antoinette Schoar, 2005. "Private Equity Performance: Returns, Persistence, and Capital Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(4), pages 1791-1823, August.
    3. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2003. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 281-315.
    4. David H. Hsu, 2004. "What Do Entrepreneurs Pay for Venture Capital Affiliation?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1805-1844, August.
    5. Bhattacharya Sudipto & Chiesa Gabriella, 1995. "Proprietary Information, Financial Intermediation, and Research Incentives," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 328-357, October.
    6. Lin, Timothy H. & Smith, Richard L., 1998. "Insider reputation and selling decisions: the unwinding of venture capital investments during equity IPOs," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 241-263, September.
    7. Lerner, Josh, 1995. " Venture Capitalists and the Oversight of Private Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 301-318, March.
    8. Gorman, Michael & Sahlman, William A., 1989. "What do venture capitalists do?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 231-248, July.
    9. Baker, Malcolm & Gompers, Paul A, 2003. "The Determinants of Board Structure at the Initial Public Offering," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 569-598, October.
    10. Zsuzsanna Fluck & Kedran Garrison & Stewart C. Myers, 2005. "Venture Capital Contracting and Syndication: An Experiment in Computational Corporate Finance," NBER Working Papers 11624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2000. "Reputation Effects and the Limits of Contracting: A Study of the Indian Software Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 989-1017.
    12. Masako Ueda, 2004. "Banks versus Venture Capital: Project Evaluation, Screening, and Expropriation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(2), pages 601-621, April.
    13. Joshua Lerner, 1994. "The Syndication of Venture Capital Investments," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 23(3), Fall.
    14. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
    15. Yosha Oved, 1995. "Information Disclosure Costs and the Choice of Financing Source," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 3-20, January.
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