Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Applied Economics

First Advisor

Joseph E. Harrington

Second Advisor

David H. Hsu

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the assembly of organizational resources by technology ventures. We study how innovative firms acquire human and financial capital and then organize those resources, and how public policy affects that capability.

In the first chapter, we study the role of information in organizational decision-making for the financing of entrepreneurial ventures. We formally model a decentralized set of agents who vote strategically to allocate resources to a project with unknown outcome; they can each acquire costly information to improve their decision quality. We test our predictions in the setting of venture capital, where partners make their own angel investments outside of their employer. We find that the venture capital partners, acting independently, make riskier investments into younger firms with less educated and younger founding teams, but these investments perform better on some metrics even when controlling for investment size and stage. Geographic distance and liquidity constraints increase the probability the investment is taken up by a partner and not the VC.

In the second chapter, we evaluate the impact of skilled immigration on U.S. innovation by exploiting a random lottery in the H-1B visa program. Proponents argue that immigration allows firms to access technical skills and promote innovation, while opponents argue that firms substitute domestic labor for cheaper but equally or less skilled foreign labor. We find that winning an H-1B immigrant does not significantly increase patent applications or grants at the firm level, and there is pervasive use of the program in industries where patenting is not the main value-appropriation strategy.

In the third chapter, we study how a firm should organize the diversity of technical experience, contained within its pool of inventive human capital, for firm-level innovation. Using a sample of biotechnology start-ups, we examine the implications of alternate firm-level design regimes, drawing on both a firm-year panel structure and an inventor-year difference-in-differences empirical approach. Organizing a firm's human capital with greater across-team diversity yields increased firm-level innovation benefits as compared to organizing with greater within-team diversity. The benefits of across-team diversity stem mainly from the influence of that regime on team stability.