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Corporate Accelerators

A Study Exploring CA Program Conditions to Foster More Successful Startup and Corporate Engagement

Written by Simon Hagedorn, Robin Thien

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>Entrepreneurship




Master Thesis: Corporate Entrepreneurship and Corporate Venture The entrepreneurial practice of corporate ventures has been studied in the past five years (Anderson et al., 2015; Westfall, 1969). CE can be understood as the process of creating new organizations or updating existing organizations (Dess & Lumpkin, 2005; P. Sharma & Chrisman, 1999). More deeply, its purpose is to maintain innovation through new products and/or services. The entrepreneurial activities of these enterprises involve the strategic management of the enterprise (Guth & Ginsberg, 1990). The integration of CE and corporate strategic management tasks shows the relevance of continuous innovation. In addition, large companies are intensively seeking alternatives to entrepreneurial activities to maintain or improve their innovation (Weiblen & Chesbrough, 2015). CE can be divided into two categories: strategic renewal and corporate adventure. In the strategy update process, companies can choose to completely update the current strategy, continuously update, redefine the field, rejuvenate the organization, or restructure the business model (Morris, 2011). Corporate venture capital includes internal corporate venture capital, cooperative venture capital and external corporate venture capital (Morris, 2011). Internal corporate venture capital focuses on the development of new companies and innovations through its own employees, which can be regarded as equivalent to internal entrepreneurship. It requires the motivation of entrepreneurs, as well as the ability to take advantage of opportunities and implement them. All activities are carried out in the context of existing companies (Ma et al., 2016). In addition, cooperative venture capital is a form of cooperation between an enterprise and one or more external development partners. Therefore, the new business is created and owned by the company and external partners (Morris, 2011). Through external corporate risk, corporate investment or acquisition of external business. This investment promotes the establishment and/or development of new businesses (Titus et al., 2017). Examples of external corporate venture capital include: creative sourcing activities, business plan competitions, hackathons, incubation, and seed investment (Mocker et al., 2015). 2.2 The definition of enterprise accelerators In the early accelerator research literature, the authors did not distinguish between independent and CA (Heinemann, 2015; Pauwels et al., 2016). The general definition of an accelerator is used here: an accelerator is a “fixed-term, queue-based program that includes a mentoring and educational component that ends in a public campaign, usually called a demo day” (Cohen, 2013; Cohen and Hochberg ,Year 2014). In a recent study, the author emphasized this difference and expressed a definition independent of CA. 2.3 Enterprise accelerators 2.3.1 A relatively new phenomenon in the entrepreneurial activities of the target companies of enterprise accelerators is CA (Hochberg, 2016; Moschner et al., 2019). The scientific literature has recently begun to analyze and model the design of different accelerators (Moschner et al., 2019). CA allows established companies to increase their internal innovation levels by collaborating with young, energetic and innovative companies, adopting emerging technologies and reshaping business models (Cohen et al., 2019a). Therefore, CA promotes the interaction between large enterprises and small start-ups. Its overall concept is to mainly improve the overall innovation level of large enterprises by promoting the innovation of start-ups (Shankar & Shepherd, 2019). Therefore, the accelerator program has become an important aspect of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially as an entrepreneurial tool to participate in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (Moschner et al., 2019; Shankar and Shepherd, 2019). In addition, from a macro perspective, CA supports existing theories such as duality. Dexterity represents a company's "ability to execute today's strategy while developing tomorrow's strategy, which stems from the work environment of its employees" (Birkinshaw & Gibson, 2004). These plans are either aimed at improving the company’s coordination capabilities—the importance here is to develop the company’s core assets and values—or focus on adaptability in order to quickly see new opportunities in the market (Birkinshaw & Gibson, 2004). These two different accelerator project design strategies are further described in the paper by Shankar and Shepherd, who distinguish between the above two approaches: accelerating strategic adaptation or accelerating risk emergence (Shankar & Shepherd, 2019). 2.3.2 Definitions and core elements First, Kohler (2016) briefly summarized CAs as follows: "Enterprise accelerators are time-limited programs supported by companies that support start-up groups in the new risk process through guidance, education, and company-specific resources." (Kohler, 2016) Next, there is a description of some of the core elements and characteristics of the accelerator: a specific time period (mainly 3-6 months); provision of co-working space; educational programs and visits (industry experts). However, the obvious differences apply to a single CA program, so it is difficult to identify specific features and components because there is no single best practice CA design so far (Cohen et al., 2019b). Read Less