Date of Award

Summer 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Mauro Guillén


This dissertation analyzes where and when experienced investors add value to startups. Building on the resource-dependence theory and the relational view of the firm, I argue that the positive effect of investor experience on startup performance is stronger when the startup faces a more uncertain environment. The first essay predicts a greater effect of investor experience early in the life cycle of the startup and when financial markets are less developed; when the expropriation hazard is high, investors have fewer incentives to make a contribution. The second essay examines the effect of investor experience on different innovative outcomes, and how these effects vary with the hazard of expropriation. The final essay studies whether these effects derive from the social status or the knowledge of investors. I collected a sample of 688 biotechnology startups, founded between 1990 and 2004, from 30 different countries, and followed them until they went public, were acquired, or until 2005. I gathered the patents and publications, the investment history, and for each investor, the experience and network position in the global syndication network. Empirical analyses address the endogeneity problem derived from the matching of investors and startups using selection models and firm fixed effects. The main finding is that the positive effect of investor experience on firm performance and innovative outcomes is moderated by the institutional environment. The effect of investor experience on the likelihood of an IPO or acquisition is accentuated when financial markets are less developed; however, when faced with a hazard of expropriation, the effect is attenuated. Interestingly, experienced investors enhance innovative outcomes even more when the hazard of expropriation is high; this suggests that the experience of investors does not have the same value for financial or innovative performance in regulatory unstable environments. Finally, the effect of investor experience is driven both by the social status and the knowledge resources of investors. Moreover, both effects vary across institutional environment, but in different ways. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the institutional environment to analyze which investors add value to a startup, and the processes by which they do so.