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The latest news and stories from Duke’s innovation and entrepreneurship community

Song Ma, Yale University

In December more than 35 scholars from Duke, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University gathered for the annual Duke-UNC Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Symposium.

In the informal environment at the Bullpen, Duke I&E’s downtown headquarters, they shared their research (including a keynote by Dr. Song Ma of Yale University, who earned his PhD from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business), and had enthusiastic discussions about their respective methods, findings, and future avenues of exploration.

Presenters shared their research on diverse topics ranging from inequality in entrepreneurship, to the effect of large firms on local entrepreneurship, to whether or not entrepreneurship is an addiction:

Keynote: “The Education-Innovation Gap“

Song Ma, Yale University

  • The education-innovation gap explores how students’ backgrounds and education relate to their economic outcomes; the gap measures the distance between the material taught in college and university courses—based on three million syllabi across American institutions from 1992-2018—and the content of frontier research, patents, and employment postings.
  • The gap has steadily increased since 2000, with the smallest gap seen for Ivy-League and elite schools and largest for schools with the largest proportion of minority students.
  • The gap is negatively correlated with graduation rates, income, and intergenerational mobility, suggesting that this measure is useful to examine for human capital accumulation, labor market success, innovation, and inequality.

“Entrepreneur—a Jockey or a Horse Owner?“

Elena Kulchina, North Carolina State University

  • Most entrepreneurship literature has neglected the question of whether the person founding a new business is the right person to operate it; this research examined fine-grained data on entrepreneurs in Denmark to see what motivates them to operate firms personally versus to hire a manager.
  • The primary considerations are opportunity cost of owner-management and relevant prior experience.
  • When founders don’t manage their firms personally, they typically work full-time at another firm or play a non-management role in their own venture.

“Financing Entrepreneurship: Tax Incentives forEarly-Stage Investors“

Xinxin Wang, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; Matthew Denes, Carnegie Mellon University

  • Angel investor tax credits in 31 U.S. states from 1988 to 2018 increased the number of angel
  • investments and average investment size. 
  • However, additional investments flow to lower-quality startups launched by less experienced entrepreneurs, and angel-backed firms subsequently perform poorly.
  • Evidence suggests that entry of new and inexperienced investors can explain these results; overall findings suggest that state-level investor tax credits are ineffective in promoting high-quality entrepreneurship.

Does Goliath Help David? Anchor Firms and Startup Clusters

Rahul Gupta, Duke University

  • To explore the impact of large firms’ expansion into new areas on local entrepreneurs and new venture formation, this research compares startups in counties chosen as anchor firm sites versus those considered in the firms’ final site searches.
  • The arrival of an anchor firm induces entrepreneurship in its local value chain by a magnitude of 120 new establishments from startups that account for over 2,000 jobs; these new ventures grow 12% faster in five-year employment growth and have a 7% lower failure probability than those in counterfactual counties.
  • Results show that extant employees with industry experience in high quality firms are most likely to form new successful ventures when an anchor firm disrupts their employer’s local value chain.

Serial Addiction to Entrepreneurship

Jon Carr, North Carolina State University

  • Some entrepreneurs seem addicted to new venture creation irrespective of the success or failure of their previous ventures; this research empirically tests the effects of sensation seeking and workaholism trait dispositions, as well as performance feedback, on serial entrepreneurship intentions.
  • A first study of university students and a second of former entrepreneurs found that sensation-seeking and workaholism positively predict serial entrepreneurship intensions, independent of prior business performance. 
  • Additionally, the effects of sensation-seeking and workaholism were stronger for entrepreneurs with negative prior performance.

Does Government Play Favorites? Evidence fromOpportunity Zones

Ofer Eldar, Duke University; Chelsea Garber, Duke University

  • In 2017, Congress introduced the Opportunity Zone (OZ) designation to promote development in distressed communities, with many critics citing governors’ selection of qualifying zones from many eligible tracts without meaningful scrutiny.
  • This research indicates that OZ designation is more likely for tracts with higher unemployment rates and poverty levels and lower incomes; tracts on an upward trajectory in terms of poverty and income; and tracts in counties that supported the governor in the last election. 
  • Overall, while governors targeted selection to the relatively poor tracts, there is evidence of potential favoritism.

On April 2, 2020, Duke I&E and UNC’s Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise will cohost a larger research conference where scholars from top institutions around the w will connect with the Triangle’s vibrant community of entrepreneurship scholars to share and discuss their scholarship. Registration will open in early February; contact Camille Warren for more information.

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