"To have and have not": Founders' human capital and university start-up survival

Giuseppe Criaco, Tommaso Minola, Pablo Migliorini, Christian Serarols-Tarrés

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74 Citations (Scopus)


In order to preserve innovation, knowledge development and diffusion, as well as the transfer of new technologies, the emergence of University Start-Ups (USU) and their survival as a particular dimension of performance represents a relevant research topic. As USU generally have scarce initial resources, the human capital of their founders is one of their main business assets. Although the survival of such firms is supposed to be heavily dependent on the human capital characteristics of their founders, this has not received enough attention in existing research. In this paper we investigate the contribution of founders' specific human capital characteristics to the survival of USU, building on Gimeno et al. (Adm Sci Q 42:750-783, 1997) threshold model of entrepreneurial exit. We divide USU founders' specific human capital into three components (entrepreneurship, industry and university) in order to better understand its impact on firm survival. Our theoretical model is empirically tested on a unique sample of Catalan USU through a logistic regression analysis. Coherently with our theoretical reasoning, the results show that industry human capital negatively affect USU survival, while university human capital and entrepreneurship human capital enhance the likelihood of USU survival. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-593
JournalJournal of Technology Transfer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Academic entrepreneurship
  • Human capital
  • Survival
  • Threshold
  • University spin-off
  • University start-up


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