Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Exequiel Hernandez


Research on interfirm relationships has typically adopted the simplification of viewing the firm as a monolith with various aggregate characteristics such as its capabilities, experience and social embeddedness. While this has facilitated many important insights, it overlooks potential differences arising from the way these relationships are organized within the firms, such as the backgrounds and incentives of the people involved. In this dissertation, I will explore how these factors can affect the exchanges that arise between partnering firms and consequently their outcomes. In the first chapter, I will examine the implicit assumptions made by research in this domain on the internal factors relating to firms external relationships, and thereby identify the conditions under which these assumptions are likely to break down. In chapters 2 and 3, I will empirically examine how accounting for these factors can improve our understanding of these relationships. The context for these studies is the relationship between startups and established firms that arise from corporate venture capital investments. In chapter 2, I highlight an important tension for startups in these relationships - on the one hand, they provide valuable downstream expertise to help startups adapt their technologies to product environments, but on the other, they expose startups to norms and mindsets that push them in less novel technological directions in their inventions. I show that each of these effects can vary depending on which employees of the incumbent firm the startup has access to, and how those connections are made. In chapter 3, I examine whether the backgrounds of the entrepreneurs may influence the ability of the startups to unlock value from these relationships. I find that startups whose entrepreneurs have experience working in an established firm are better equipped to navigate the larger organization, but that this is also associated with a narrowing of the technological distance between the firms post-investment. These effects can also vary substantially depending on the organizational antecedents of the managers of the established firm in charge of these relationships. Accounting for these issues, conceptually and empirically, can help us better understand how collaborative relationships shape firms’ strategies and outcomes

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