Abstract: Grounded in the startup accelerators literature, we evaluate whether the leadership capabilities of founders and C-suite executives as assessed by co-founders, employees, investors, and advisory board members during their time in the accelerator predict startups’ future performance trajectories. Analyzing data on 430 technology-focused startups that participated in the Google for Startups accelerators and their 966 founders and C-suite executives, we find that startups with more effective leaders as evaluated by affiliates achieved higher revenue, innovation, funding, scaling, and longevity post acceleration. We examine leaders’ multi-rater feedback evaluations by their 7,371 affiliates using a validated 33-item scale to understand what behaviors distinguish leaders who achieve superior ratings by affiliates. Our findings underscore the critical importance of leadership capabilities in startups’ future performance trajectories.
Abstract: We study the drivers and performance outcomes of strategic forbearance – a purposeful decision not to respond to a rival’s competitive attack. Leveraging theories of skill development, we argue that forbearance can be strategically beneficial or not depending on competitors’ situational experience and level of expertise. We find that competitors with extensive experience in dealing with specific competitive situations are more likely to choose forbearance over response; however they benefit from forbearance only when they are skillful enough to create long-term positional advantage; otherwise, forbearance leads to inferior performance. Additionally, expert competitors with the highest skills favor response over forbearance, but benefit from both forbearance and response, whereas forbearance by those of limited expertise hurts performance. We operationalize forbearance as gambit decline in chess and test our propositions on a sample of 3,515 chess players making 236,767 decisions to accept or decline a gambit offer.