The interviews confirmed the importance of the post-founding speed to first product for SBEF success as the following illustrates.
We find that only where the majority of the initial researchers joined the SBEF as founders was tacit knowledge transferred effectively and sufficient speed to first product achieved.
Besides access to tacit knowledge through close interaction with the original scientists, the manner in which tacit knowledge is transferred from the PRI to the SBEF appears to be particularly important.
Proposition 1: The greater the proportion of the original research team joining the SBEF as founders, the greater will be the transfer of tacit knowledge and, hence, the greater the chances of reaching sufficient post-founding speed to first product that will lead to enhanced SBEF performance.
Top Management Team Composition, Cognitive Distance, and SBEF Performance
Our data reveal that alongside the extent of tacit knowledge about the technology embodied in the number of original researchers transferring to the founding team, it is important for the SBEF team to also include a commercial mindset for gaining sufficient speed to first product.
Proposition 2: The more that the SBEF team incorporates both tacit knowledge about the technology and a commercial mindset, the greater the chances of reaching post-founding speed to first product that will lead to enhanced SBEF performance.
Proposition 3a: Overlaps in cognitive maps between commercial and technical team members originating in the commercial person's technical background will enhance post-founding speed to first product that will lead to enhanced SBEF performance.
Proposition 3b: Overlaps in cognitive maps between commercial and technical team members originating in common prior working experience will enhance post-founding speed to first product that will lead to enhanced SBEF performance.
This study has presented a first attempt to bring together insights relating knowledge transfer, TMT composition, and SBEF performance.
By providing a model for when knowledge in SBEFs is important and how it can be transferred effectively from the research institute to the SBEF, we contribute to Lockett et al.
Further research should study a matched sample of SBEFs in these early stages of development that failed and succeeded in order to complement our findings on top management teams and SBEF performance.