The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of the entrepreneur’s social capital and cognitive orientation in new venture innovation.
The specific research questions are what impact the entrepreneur’s social capital has on his or her cognitive orientation in new product development; and to what extent and how social capital is dependent on the entrepreneur’s cognitive orientation in the new venture innovation performance. Data were collected in a survey conducted in multiple waves on a sample of approximately 1,400 new ventures in the USA. Social capital is measured by the position generator method. Cognitive orientation is measured by the causal mapping method. Regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses.
The results indicate that the entrepreneur’s strong social ties with the scientific community and technology-orientated cognition drive research collaborations and ultimately contribute to new venture innovation.
Possible limitations are the low survey response rate, the spread of industries involved and respondents being the sole data source. Future research could use multiple data sources, increase the response rate by using other methods such as interviews and focus on a single industry or a set of related industries.
The findings of this study can guide entrepreneurs to manage their social relationships actively. Entrepreneurs should proactively build strong ties with the scientific community at the start-up stage to improve their firms’ innovation performance. In the domain of public policy, initiatives such as encouragement of cooperation between universities and entrepreneurs may help to create new venture innovations and stimulate the regional economy.
This study contributes to the research on innovation and entrepreneurship by exploring the interrelationships among entrepreneurs’ social capital, cognitive orientation and new venture innovation. It found that entrepreneurs’ social capital at the start-up stage influences the characteristics of their cognitive orientation in new product development and ultimately new venture innovation. It also revealed how entrepreneurs think about new product success through cognitive mapping techniques.
This research was supported by the Penn State University’s Research Development Grant. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Academy of Management Annual Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 1-5, 2014.
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