Karin Hellerstedt (2009)

The Composition of New Venture Teams: Its Dynamics and Consequences

New venture team composition lies at the heart of this thesis. Drawing on social-psychological explanations and human capital reasoning, the thesis addresses the social as well as the instrumental foci facing new venture teams. This is done by addressing four research questions: 1) What are the characteristics of new venture teams and their team members? 2) What impact does team composition and firm performance have on team dynamics? 3) What impact does team member characteristics and individual deviation have on individual dynamics? 4) How does team composition and team dynamics influence firm performance? Dynamics is studied by investigating the adding and dropping of team members.

Research on entrepreneurial teams is characterized by several methodological challenges that this thesis takes on. First, there is a lack of longitudinal studies. Second, no studies are based on truly random samples of teams. Third, the unit and level of analysis has been the team and the firm. Rarely is the individual considered. In addition, the thesis sheds light on team diversity and its effects as well as the relationship with performance, both as an antecedent and as a consequence.

The empirical setting is based on a unique database covering all individuals entering into self-employment in knowledge-intensive industries in Sweden during the 1996 to 2000 period. Their firms are tracked annually up to 2002, providing a census panel three to seven years long consisting of five cohorts. This is done by using secondary data from Statistics Sweden (SCB) covering information on individuals as well as their firms. By combining individual and firm level data, the thesis demonstrates how team level constructs can be obtained.

Overall, the hypothesized relations predicting team member and individual exits receive strong support. Entries to teams and the performance of the firms are not as well explained by the chosen constructs. The findings show that greater internal diversity along some but not all demographic dimensions is positively associated with a higher rate of team member exits. More precisely,when diversity can be linked to status differences, the impact is more pronounced. Furthermore, the findings show that deviation from others in the group has an impact on which individual is likely to leave the team. There are also considerable differences in behavior between teams consisting of spousal pairs and other teams. In fact, the findings show that spousal couples venturing together are very common and that the typical team does not match the entrepreneurial team as it often is portrayed in the literature. In sum, the study suggests that diversity in attributes related to status can influence team stability. In addition, trust and prior relationships appear to be especially important for the creation and development of new venture teams.