Small Business Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 243–259 | Cite as

Outside Board Members in High Tech Start-ups

  • Bart Clarysse
  • Mirjam Knockaert
  • Andy Lockett


Board composition in large organizations has been subject to much empirical research, however, little attention has been focused on board composition in start-ups, and more specifically high tech start-ups. This lack of research is surprising given that many high tech start-ups have multiple equity stakeholders such as venture capitalists or public research organizations, such as universities. Given that high tech start-ups are commonly resource-poor these external stakeholders may play an important role in accessing critical external resources. Drawing on agency theory, resource dependence theory and social network theory we examine the tensions that exist between the founding team and external equity stakeholders in determining the presence of outside board members. In particular we focus on whether or not the outside board members have either complementary or substitute human capital to the founding team. We test our model on a sample of 140 high tech start-ups in Flanders. Our results indicate that high tech start-ups with a public research organization as an external equity stakeholder are more likely to develop boards with outside board members with complementary skills to the founding team.


agency theory board board composition corporate governance founding teams high tech start-up resource dependency university spin-off venture capital 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School and Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Nottingham University Business School, Jubilee CampusNottinghamUK

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