J. Daniel Kim

J. Daniel Kim
  • Assistant Professor of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2029 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: High-Growth Entrepreneurship; Venture Scaling, Strategic Human Capital; Mergers and Acquisitions; Innovation; Labor Markets

Links: CV, Personal Website, Twitter, Google Scholar


Prof. Danny Kim is an Assistant Professor of Management at the Wharton School. His research is at the intersection of entrepreneurship, strategy, and labor markets. He has conducted studies on the drivers of venture scaling and performance, acquisitions of startups, and the broader role of entrepreneurship in the US economy. His research has been published in various academic journals and featured in media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Financial Times. Prof. Kim teaches MBA and PhD courses on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Prof. Kim’s research has won numerous awards including the Best Conference Paper Prize at Strategic Management Society and MIT Sloan Doctoral Thesis Prize. He was named one of the Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professors by Poets & Quants in 2023 and his teaching has been recognized with Teaching Excellence Award at Wharton. Prof. Kim also serves as an economist with the United States Census Bureau.

Prof. Kim received a Ph.D. from MIT Sloan School of Management and a B.A. from Dartmouth College. Prior to his doctoral studies, he worked at Harvard Business School and Morgan Stanley.

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  • J. Daniel Kim and Saerom Lee (Under Review), Target Startup’s Organizational Structure and Acquirer’s Integration-Separation Decision.

    Abstract: To reap the benefits of startup acquisition, acquirers strategically choose whether to integrate or separate their targets. This study examines how this post-acquisition organization design choice between integration and separation depends on the target startup's pre-acquisition organizational structure. Leveraging employee-employer-matched data to construct a novel measure of post-acquisition separation based on employee mobility patterns, we find that acquirers are more likely to separate more structurally complex target startups. Additional analyses are consistent with the view that, as the target firm's structural complexity can increase the disruptive costs of integrating the two firms but reduce coordination costs when kept separate, post-acquisition separation becomes more suitable. Our results shed light on an important organizational antecedent that shapes the relative appeal of integration versus separation in startup acquisitions.

  • Saerom Lee and J. Daniel Kim (2024), When Do Startups Scale? Large-scale Evidence from Job Postings, Strategic Management Journal. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.3596

    Abstract: Scaling at the right time is a crucial challenge for startups. Conceptualizing “scaling” as the entrepreneurial process of acquiring and committing resources to implement the core business idea and expand the customer base, this study examines how scaling early may decrease imitation risk at the expense of increasing commitment risk. As startups typically hire managers and sales personnel when they begin to scale, we propose that this timing can be empirically measured by when startups first post these jobs. Leveraging a dataset of job postings, we find that early scalers are more likely to fail, but no evidence of a countervailing benefit in terms of successful exit. Additional analyses suggest that the commitment risk in scaling early outweighs the benefit of reducing imitation risk.

  • J. Daniel Kim, Joonkyu Choi, Nathan Goldschlag, John Haltiwanger (2024), Early Joiners and Startup Performance, Review of Economics and Statistics.

    Abstract: We show that early joiners—non-founder employees in the first year of a startup—play a critical role in shaping firm performance. We use administrative employer-employee matched data on US startups and utilize premature death as a natural experiment that exogenously separates talent from startups. We find that losing an early joiner has large negative effects on employment and revenues that persist for at least ten years. In contrast, losing a later joiner yields only a small and temporary decline in firm performance. Our results imply that organization capital, an important driver of startup success, is embodied in early joiners.

  • J. Daniel Kim and Minjae Kim (2023), Founder Turnover and Organizational Change, Organization Science, Forthcoming (2023).

    Abstract: Why might start-ups not change even when doing so may enhance firm performance? It seems reasonable to point to founder presence as a potential culprit given founders’ cognitive myopia and/or commitment to the status quo. However, founder presence may instead be a facilitator of change in response to environmental uncertainty because founders can uniquely coordinate resources needed for organizational change. We empirically address these two opposing views on the impact of founder presence (versus loss) on organizational change by using a comprehensive administrative data set of start-ups in the United States. Correlational analysis shows that start-ups generally become less likely to change following founder turnover. Given the potentially endogenous nature of founder turnover, we exploit premature deaths as a natural experiment that suddenly removes some founders from their start-ups while leaving others intact. We find that start-ups are less likely to change after losing a founder, especially if the founder loss happens during an economic recession. At the same time, the effect is attenuated when losing a founder with more experience in the same industry, suggesting that founder presence can also contribute to reinforcing the status quo under some conditions. Broadly, these results not only show that founders tend to facilitate change in their organizations but also identify when founders are merely subject to organizations’ bureaucratic forces that they themselves may have imprinted originally.

  • J. Daniel Kim (2022), Startup Acquisitions, Relocation, and Employee Entrepreneurship, Strategic Management Journal, 43 (11), pp. 2189-2216.

    Abstract: This study examines the impact of startup acquisition on the acquired employees’ propensity for entrepreneurship. As a new owner, the acquirer may not prioritize acquired employees’ ideas to be commercialized internally, thereby increasing the odds that they are pursued externally. Leveraging employee-employer matched data from US Census on high-tech startup acquisitions and their workforce in 1990-2011, I find that startup acquisitions substantially increase the rate of employee entrepreneurship both within and outside the target firm’s industry. Post-acquisition entrepreneurship is disproportionally concentrated among individuals with high human capital. Moreover, this effect is amplified when the target startup is relocated to the acquirer’s location, and largely muted when left in its original location. Overall, this study highlights startup acquisitions as an important organizational precursor to employee entrepreneurship.

  • J. Daniel Kim, Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin Jones, Javier Miranda (2022), Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the United States, American Economic Review: Insights, 4 (1), pp. 71-99.

    Abstract: Immigration can expand labor supply and create greater competition for native-born workers. But immigrants may also start new firms, expanding labor demand. This paper uses U.S. administrative data and other data resources to study the role of immigrants in entrepreneurship. We ask how often immigrants start companies, how many jobs these firms create, and how these firms compare with those founded by U.S.-born individuals. A simple model provides a measurement framework for addressing the dual roles of immigrants as founders and workers. The findings suggest that immigrants act more as “job creators” than “job takers” and that non-U.S. born founders play outsized roles in U.S. high-growth entrepreneurship.

  • J. Daniel Kim (Draft), Startup Acquisitions as a Hiring Strategy: Worker Choice and Turnover.

    Abstract: This study investigates the effectiveness of high-tech startup acquisitions as a hiring strategy (“acqui-hiring”) versus traditional hiring. Using population-level data from US Census, I find that acquired workers exhibit significantly greater rates of turnover than regular hires, especially among high-earning individuals. I explore a theoretical mechanism based on the premise that, unlike regular hires who voluntarily choose to join a new firm, most acquired employees do not have a voice in the decision to be acquired. I posit that this lack of worker choice instigates organizational mismatch, thereby elevating turnover rates among acquired workers. Moreover, I document that firms learn from prior acquisitions how to effectively retain acquired employees. Together, these results elucidate the conditions under which firms can harness new talent by acquiring startups.

  • J. Daniel Kim, Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin Jones, Javier Miranda (2020), Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship, American Economic Review: Insights, 2 (1), pp. 65-82.

    Abstract: Do young people make better entrepreneurs? Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. We use administrative data at the U.S. Census Bureau to study the ages of founders of growth-oriented start-ups in the past decade. Our primary finding is that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean founder age for the 1 in 1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are broadly similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs.

  • J. Daniel Kim, Edward B. Roberts, Fiona Murray (2019), Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MIT: Continuing Global Growth and Impact, Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 15 (1), pp. 1-55.

    Abstract: This study analyzes the economic impact of MIT alumni-founded companies and highlights the key trends in the MIT entrepreneurial ecosystem between 1950 and 2014. Based on a large-scale survey of all living MIT alumni in 2014, we estimate that MIT alumni have launched more than 30,000 active companies that employ roughly 4.6 million people and generate $1.9 trillion in annual revenues, which is approximately the size of the world's 10th largest GDP. We highlight the role of foreign-born students as entrepreneurs and innovators as well as key trends in the alumni-founded ventures’ industry composition, firm performance, and economic impact through job creation and sales. Lastly, based on the lessons from MIT in the past 60 years, we discuss various implications for university leadership for designing and implementing educational curriculum and programs to address the evolving nature of alumni entrepreneurship and innovation.

  • J. Daniel Kim (2018), Is There a Startup Wage Premium? Evidence from MIT Graduates, Research Policy, 43 (3), pp. 637-649.

    Abstract: While startups are the center of extensive policy discussion given their outsized role in job creation, it is not clear whether they create high quality jobs relative to incumbent firms. This paper investigates the wage differential between venture capital-backed startups and established firms, given that the two firm types compete for talent. Using data on MIT graduates, I find that non-founder employees at VC-backed startups earn roughly 10% higher wages than their counterparts at established firms. To account for unobserved heterogeneity across workers, I exploit the fact that many MIT graduates receive multiple job offers. I find that wage differentials are statistically insignificant from zero when individual fixed effects are included. This implies that much of the startup wage premium in the cross-section can be attributed to selection, and that VC-backed startups pay competitive wages for talent. To unpack the selection mechanism, I show that individual preferences for risk as well as challenging work strongly predict entry into VC-backed startups.


All Courses

  • MGMT8010 - Entrepreneurship

    MGMT 801 is the foundation coures in the Entrepeurial Management program. The purpose of this course is to explore the many dimensions of new venture creation and growth. While most of the examples in class will be drawn from new venture formation, the principles also apply to entrepreneurship in corporate settings and to non-profit entrepreneurship. We will be concerned with content and process questions as well as with formulation and implementation issues that relate to conceptualizing, developing, and managing successful new ventures. The emphasis in this course is on applying and synthesizing concepts and techniques from functional areas of strategic management, finance, accounting, managerial economics, marketing, operations management, and organizational behavior in the context of new venture development. The class serves as both a stand alone class and as a preparatory course to those interested in writing and venture implementation (the subject of the semester-long course, MGMT 806). Format: Lectures and case discussions

  • MGMT9370 - Entrep Research Seminar

    The seminar seeks to expose students to theoretical and empirical perspectives on entrepreneurship research. We will focus on the main questions that define the field and attempt to critically examine how, using a range of methodologies, researchers have approached these questions. As we review the literature, we will seek to identify promising research areas, which may be of interest to you in the context of your dissertation research. In addition to addressing the content of the received literature, we will examine the process of crafting research papers and getting them published in top tier journals. Towards that end we will characterize the key elements of high impact papers and review the development process of such studies. Students are expected to come fully prepared to discuss and critique the readings that are assigned to each class meeting (see details below). Each student will serve as the discussion leader for one or more of the class sessions. Discussion leaders are expected to critically review several articles, identify new insights in the research that is being reviewed and evaluate its contribution to the literature, position the articles within the literature on the subject matter, raise discussion question, and act as the discussion moderator for the class session. Each discussion leader is asked to prepare a one or two page summary of the assigned papers which includes a statement of the main research question(s), the methodology, data set if any, summary of findings, a commentary with your thoughts on the reading, and proposed discussion questions. Prior to each class, the discussion leader will meet the instructor to help plan the class meeting. Towards the end of each class meeting, each student will be asked to articulate a research question that emerged from the session and describe the research design used to investigate the issue.

  • MGMT9390 - Ent Innov Research

    This quarter-length course explores key topics at the intersection of entrepreneurship and innovation. While the course primarily draws from established theory and empirics from management and economics, it will also include discussions of emerging phenomena in this rapidly evolving field. We will begin by reviewing the basic properties of ideas that uniquely shape the sources and dynamics of entrepreneurship and innovation. Subsequently, we will explore innovation-related challenges and opportunities for startups. Special focus will be placed on research application in which students design and present their own research proposal broadly in the area of entrepreneurship and innovation. Students are highly encouraged to take this course in sequence with MGMT 937.

Awards and Honors

  • Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professors, Poets & Quants, 2023
  • Teaching Excellence Award at Wharton, 2023
  • Teaching Excellence Award at Wharton, 2022
  • Teaching Excellence Award at Wharton, 2021
  • Best Entrepreneurship Paper Award, OMT Division, Academy of Management, 2021
  • Teaching Excellence Award at Wharton, 2020
  • Best Paper Prize, Strategic Management Society Annual Conference, 2020
  • Wiley Blackwell Best Dissertation Award (Finalist), Academy of Management STR Division, 2020
  • MIT Sloan School Doctoral Thesis Prize, 2019
  • Kauffman Dissertation Fellow, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2017
  • Recipient, Roberts, Hammond, and Krasner Fund Grant, 2016


Latest Research

J. Daniel Kim and Saerom Lee (Under Review), Target Startup’s Organizational Structure and Acquirer’s Integration-Separation Decision.
All Research

In the News

What Happens to a Business When the Founder Leaves?

Startup founders are often fired by investors who want the company to steer into a new direction, yet new research from Wharton’s Danny Kim shows that these entrepreneurs have what it takes to effect change.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 8/21/2023
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Wharton Magazine

At What Age Do Successful Entrepreneurs Peak?
Wharton Magazine - 04/17/2020