Accelerators and intra-ecosystem variety: how entrepreneurial agency influences venture development in a time-compressed support program

Abstract

Accelerator programs constitute an important new element in entrepreneurial ecosystems, comprising focused support to advance the development of entrepreneurial ventures. Yet, we lack understanding of the processes through which accelerators contribute to enhancing entrepreneurial activity and especially the role of entrepreneurship agency in this process. By systematically tracking a cohort of ventures in a leading accelerator, our study draws out intra ecosystem heterogeneity and reveals that the accelerator program elements can impose a distinctive direct effect on participating ventures but the effect varies as entrepreneurs adopt different approaches to engage other players in the ecosystem. We find that in order to fit in the temporal structure of the accelerator program, entrepreneurs adopt two different strategies to achieve accelerated venture development—acceleration with focus and acceleration with foresight. The effectiveness of these two acceleration strategies are moderated by the approaches to engaging the accelerator offerings for resource acquisition. By developing a theoretical framework of entrepreneurial acceleration in the accelerator setting, we contribute to the specific literatures on entrepreneurial process and accelerators and more generally to the emerging literature on the functioning of entrepreneurial ecosystems.

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