My dissertation explores the role that entrepreneurship programs, particularly startup accelerators, play in shaping the performance of startups and, more broadly, the performance of innovation ecosystems. It is well understood that highly successful innovation-driven startups emerge from a complex web of social and economic ties. However, it remains an open question as to whether, and to what extent, such ties are shaped by systematic intervention.
Startup Accelerators (which I define as fixed-term, cohort-based programs) draw from their local ecosystem to provide a cohort of selected startups with access to a menu of resources: financing, mentorship, and education. Participation in these programs is a strategic decision not only for entrepreneurs, but also investors and other ecosystem participants. Accelerators, and other programs like them, provide a opportunity to observe the dynamics that shape entrepreneurship ecosystems. I leverage my training in economics and sociology to explore how new institutions like accelerators shift the choices made by entrepreneurs and investors as well as the social processes that underpin entrepreneurship.