When starting a new business, recruit as an established company
A research highlight published this week in the journal Science reports on research analyzing "joiners," and finds that while they resemble founders in their willingness to take risks and their desire for the freedom of a startup, there are important differences.
For instance, joiners are less interested in management and more interested in functional roles such as research and development, making them more like the people who go to work for established companies.
"Sometimes you can have a single founder who handles the full range of activities for a startup, but especially in technology you need additional people to research and develop the products," said Henry Sauermann, an associate professor in the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"There are many people who are interested in working for startups but who don't want to be founders."
Sauermann and co-author Michael Roach, an assistant professor in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, found the differences while examining the entrepreneurial interests of 4,200 Ph.D. candidates who were within two years of obtaining degrees in STEM fields.
Nearly half (46 percent) of these scientists and engineers reported an interest in joining a startup as an employee, while slightly more than one in ten (11 percent) said they expected to found their own companies.
The researchers surveyed these Ph.D. candidates about personal characteristics such as acceptance of risk, desire for autonomy, interest in commercializing new technology and willingness to take on managerial tasks.
They also asked about interests in entrepreneurship, in roles as both startup founders and the joiners who support them. The study, which includes a more comprehensive companion article to be published in the journal Management Science, may be the first to consider founders and joiners as separate groups.
"A key insight from our research is that many of the characteristics that we often think of as unique to founders, such as a tolerance for risk and the desire to bring new ideas to life, also generalize to the broader entrepreneurial workforce, including people who want to work in startups but don't want to be founders themselves," Roach said. ■
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