Early-stage Start-up Hiring: The Interplay Between Start-ups’ Initial Resources and Innovation Orientation

Vera Rocha*, Luca Grilli

*Corresponding author for this work

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Start-up firms often operate under high levels of uncertainty and resource constraints, which makes hiring a particularly challenging process. Integrating perspectives from the resource- and competence-based views of the firm and signaling theory, we posit that founders’ start-up experience and the initial presence of corporate or university shareholders can mitigate challenges associated with hiring and facilitate the recruitment of employees in the nascent stages of a firm. Moreover, we propose that early-stage hiring will be more likely in start-ups that combine such a strong set of initial competences and resources with a strategic orientation towards innovation. We find support for our hypotheses with a rich dataset of Italian innovative start-ups.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1641-1668
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 25 August 2023.


  • Early-stage hiring
  • Innovation orientation
  • Innovative start-ups
  • Resource- (and Competence-) based view
  • Signaling

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