Leveraging the Lab: How Pre-founding R&D Collaboration Influences the Internationalization Timing of Academic Spin-offs

Achim Walter, Nicole Coviello*, Monika Sienknecht, Thomas Ritter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Research shows that early internationalization is more likely when founders have international and business-related experience. But what if experience was obtained in other ways? We study the scientist-founders of 149 academic spin-offs (ASOs), using cognition theory to argue for a curvilinear relationship between breadth of pre-founding R&D collaboration and internationalization timing. Our longitudinal study combines survey and patent data to show that increased breadth of collaboration with international scientists increases and then decreases the likelihood of early internationalization. The results are similar but less robust for collaboration with industry partners. Our findings suggest that studies on experience in new venture internationalization underestimate the role of R&D collaboration and the research-based heritage of many new firms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEntrepreneurship: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)71-103
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: December 29, 2022.


  • Early internationalization
  • R&D collaboration
  • International new venture
  • Academic spin-off
  • Cognitive load
  • Cognitive diversity

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