Journal Article

Fire in the belly? Employee motives and innovative performance in startups versus established firms

Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal
Subject(s): Entrepreneurship
Keyword(s): Entrepreneurial firms, human capital, innovative performance, motives, start-up joiners

We examine whether start-ups attract employees with different pecuniary and non-pecuniary motives than small or large established firms. We then explore whether such differences in employee motives may lead to differences in innovative performance across firm types. Using data on more than 10,000 U.S. R&D employees, we find that start-up employees (“joiners”) place lower importance on job security and salary but greater importance on independence and responsibility. Start-up employees have higher patent output than employees in small and large established firms, and this difference is partly mediated by employee motives - especially joiners’ greater willingness to bear risk. We discuss implications for research as well as for managers and policy makers concerned with the supply of human capital to entrepreneurship and innovation.

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