Prior work on the commercialization of innovation is motivated by competitive dynamics between startup and incumbent firms and has looked at the determinants of innovator commercialization mode. We contribute to the literature by examining variation in performance resulting from the choice of whether to innovation technologically in new ventures. The institutional and business environment conditions which strategies lead to higher performance for start-up innovators. In contrast to the factors shown to determine commercialization mode, we show that the team characteristics and economic environment play a stronger role in predicting an innovators entrepreneurial firm performance. Using unique data from a novel survey of entrepreneurial firms founded over five decades and across diverse industries, we show the conditions when technology focused vs. functionally diverse founding teams outperform. In addition, we show that in certain environments firms with more highly original innovations and innovating firms founded during a recession have higher performance.
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