Session 2: 9:15–10:45 a.m. EDT

Papers and Slides

Selection Committees and the Acceleration of Women-Led Ventures

Conference Slides

Sarah Kaplan with Nel Dutt

Abstract: Entrepreneurship scholars are increasingly paying attention to the antecedents and consequences of the entrepreneurial gender gap, with increasing focus on ways to mitigate generally negative consequences for women entrepreneurs. We consider how a proliferating phenomenon—start-up accelerators—can help mitigate the gender gap in entrepreneurship by creating an environment that through better representation of women, mitigates bias in the selection of women entrepreneurs. Using data describing around 2,500 applicants to 49 different social innovation accelerators across the world, we consider how heterogeneity in the shares of women selectors is associated with the selection of women-led ventures into accelerator programs. Our analyses suggest that programs with greater shares of women selectors tend to attract more women applicants, yet accept women-led teams at lower rates. While women selectors are more prone to select women-led teams, it appears that increasing the number of women selectors also expands the size of selection committees, and larger committees—perhaps because it is harder to come to consensus about non-traditional applicants—tend to be more selective with respect to women entrepreneurs. These results illuminate limits to the actions of gender diverse selection committees in implementing structural interventions to address the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

Online Training Programs and (In)equality: Rewiring the Gender Distribution of Technical Jobs

Conference Slides

Jacqueline Lane with Karim Lakhani and Roberto Fernandez

Abstract: Emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are fundamentally changing the nature of work, leading to a technical skills gap between what mid-career professionals do and what they need to be effective in their jobs. Online programs in technical fields provide one promising avenue for addressing the growing skills gap. Yet given historical processes of gender inequality in the workplace, particularly in technical fields, one important question to ask is the extent that online technical training programs equally attract men and women to apply. We investigate this question using proprietary data on the multi-staged decision processes made by 180,186 prospects on whether to apply to an executive-level online technical training program in business analytics, augmented with communications data on the count and length of interactions between each prospect admissions counselor pair. We find that female prospects self-steer away from applying while admissions counselors screen-out female prospects by preferentially allocating resources to male prospects. Counter to theories of homophily, we find that gender congruity between female prospect-counselor pairs reduces the likelihood that females advance through the admissions process. Examining contextual features, we find that more gender-balanced workgroups and prior experience with female prospects may attenuate gender differences in application outcomes.

Uncovering the Impact of Venture Capital Firms on Startup Innovation

Elisa Alvarez-Garrido

Abstract: I seek to uncover the effect of venture capital (VC) on innovation by studying which VC firms foster the startup innovative process, and in what context. I argue that specialist VC firms have the knowledge to help the startup innovate faster, but that this effect is moderated by context: the research environment of the country where the startup innovates is both complements and substitutes the main effect. I find empirical support from a sample of 923 VC-backed biotech startups from 26 countries during a period of high growth of the biotech industry (1996–2006). The results suggest that selection is not the main driver. Qualitative insights from interviews with 18 VC partners shed further light on the mechanisms underlying the effect of VC on innovation.

How Nonprofit Actors Shape Business Ecosystems: Nonprofit vs. Industry-Sponsored Clinical Trials

Elena Plaksenkova

Abstract: I explore how nonprofit actors actively shape a business ecosystem by comparing industry-sponsored and nonprofit-sponsored clinical trials on anti-HIV drugs. Because of the fundamental differences in incentives nonprofit actors may pursue combinations that would be of lower interest to for-profit actors, such as combinations consisting of less expensive drugs, targeting smaller demographics or featuring fewer drugs. I examine the differences between industry-sponsored and nonprofit-sponsored trials in the choice of complements tested and in the use of prior trials. I find that there is a subtle division of labor between firms and nonprofits as the latter tend to test combinations of older drugs to improve the access to treatment in developing countries. Because nonprofits do not have vested interest in drugs they also tend to contrast newer and older drugs to confirm the efficacy and safety (may be less beneficial for firms), and to establish compatibility with a wider range of complements (may sometimes be beneficial for firms). Furthermore, I find that nonprofits are active in trials on combinations that eschew a certain type of complements in the ecosystem. I speculate that this contributes to shifting the ecosystem bottleneck and affects how the value can be created in the ecosystem.

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