The influence of Technological Distance to the Market on the performance of New Technology Based Firms
Os, P.A. van
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This study set out to find an explanation of the difference in performance between different types of new technology based firms (NTBFs), especially an explanation of why university spin-offs (USOs) seem to be outperformed by corporate spin-offs (CSOs) and independent ventures (IVs) on the short term, but outperform CSOs and IVs after four years. While the difference in NTBF performance has been researched in previous studies, there has been a lack of focus on the technological basis of these NTBFs, the so-called technological distance to the market (TDM) of the patents these firms are based on. This study argues that NTBFs with a high TDM, firms that are based on a more novel and radical technology, require a longer period of technological development. Entering the market to soon could result in such a firm’s bankruptcy. However, firms with a high TDM have also shown to lead to a relatively high firm performance on the long run. To test the influence of TDM on firm performance and to analyze if USOs indeed have a larger TDM than other types of NTBFs, this study used patent data of all patents applied for by Dutch universities since 2005. Patents since 2005 applied for by Dutch inventors that worked at a Dutch university between 1977 and 2005 were used to complement this database. Additionally, the inventors listed in these patents were sent an invitation to participate in a survey, to provide additional information about the potential NTBFs based on these patents. Because of a small sample size, a robust sample analysis has been used to be able assess the relation between TDM and firm performance, while a Kruskal-Wallis test has been used to statistically test the difference in variance of TDM between the three types of NTBFs. This study found that in our sample, TDM indeed has a positive relation with firm performance in the later phases of NTBF development. Firms with a high TDM seem to be able to achieve higher success than firms with a low TDM, but also come with a higher risk of failing. Furthermore, USOs are found to have a higher average TDM than other types of TDM, which is unrelated to differences in technological fields. TDM thus seem to be the cause of the difference in performance between different types of TDM, resulting in a need for a more differentiated management of NTBFs and further academic research on the performance of NTBFs.