Academic spin-offs’ team heterogeneity: an exploratory analysis on growth performance

  • Giulia Tagliazucchi
  • Gianluca Marchi
  • Bernardo Balboni
Keywords: team heterogeneity, academic spin-off, corporate venture capital


Purpose of the paper: The present study seeks to shed light on the relationship between team background diversity and growth performance in academic spinoffs. Academic spin-offs are an important means to exploit and transfer the results of academic and scientific research. However, empirical investigations highlight that they tend to have more homogeneous teams and lower performance than independent new ventures.

Methodology: We focus on the disciplinary background of academic and nonacademic members in order to assess the team heterogeneity. The sample is composed of 67 academic spin-offs. Hierarchical regression analysis has been used for our exploratory purpose. 

Findings: The results show that the functional diversity affects positively firm growth and this impact is significantly higher in the case of corporate venture backed spin-offs. Moreover, our findings suggest that the integration of market-oriented skills and business-related networks and competencies through the presence of CVC strengthen the relationship between heterogeneity and performance. 

Implications: A growing body of literature shows that functional diversity is more likely to have positive effects than demographical diversity. Our results confirm the key role of a balanced composition between academic and non-academic profiles. Furthermore, this functional heterogeneity can be fruitfully extended by external market capabilities conveyed by the presence of a corporate venture capital. 

Originality of the paper: This exploratory study is a first attempt to fill the gap on the relationship between diversity and performance. The originality of the analysis lies in deepening the interaction between team functional background and corporate venture in assessing the performance of academic spin-offs.


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