Baron_and_Hannan_2002 - Organizational Blueprints for...

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Organizational Blueprints for Success in High-Tech Start-Ups: LESSONS FROM THE STANFORD PROJECT ON EMERGING COMPANIES James N. Baron Michael T. Hannan H ow much does human resource management matter in the "new economy"? Some commentators have recently suggested that the goal of building well-managed enduring companies has fallen out of favor; "huilt to flip" replaced "built to last," as entrepreneurs and their financial backers raced to cash in on the technology bonanza.' Renderings of the new economy have tended to portray organization-building as (at best) irrelevant or (at worst) a source of organizational drag in a world operating "at Internet speed," a useless diversion of leaders' time and energy away from more important and immediate concerns. Furthermore, good human resource man- agement is not likely to seem all that paramount when things are on a roll. As a senior executive of one of the world's premier technology companies put it to us not too long ago, colorfully paraphrasing a Chinese proverb, "during a hurri- cane, even turkeys can fly." Over the last eight years, our research group—the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies ("SPEC")—has tracked a large sample of high-technology start-ups in California's Silicon Valley. Our aim has been to examine how the We acknowledge generous support from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, particularly the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Human Resources Initiative, which enabled us to carry oL/t the research described in this article. We are also very grateful to Diane Burton, Greta Hsu, Ozgecan Kocak, Daniel Stewart. Aimee Noelle-Swanson, and the many other past and current students who have assisted in the SPEC project. In the course of doing this research, we have also received a great deal of helpful advice, input, and support from colleagues at Stanford, particularly Glenn Carroll. Irv Grousbeck. Charles Holloway. David Kreps, Charles O'Reilly, Joel Podolny, and Garth Saloner.We have also benefited from conversations with numerous entrepreneurs, human resources professionals, and venture capitalists about these resufts; we wish in particular to acknowledge and thank Debra Engel, Kathryn Gould. Felda Hardymon, Mike Levinthal. Burt McMurtry, and William Unger Finally, we received numerous helpful suggestions from the anonymous reviewers for GMR CALIFORNIA MANAGEMENT REVIEW VOL. 44, NO. 3 SPRING 2002
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Organizational Blueprints for Success in High-Tech Start-Ups founders of those enterprises approached key organizational and HR challenges in the early days ot building their firms and to learn whether these activities have had enduring effects on the companies. Through interviews with founders, chief executives, and HR directors—supplemented by quantitative information on strategy, HR practices, business partners, financing, and the like, obtained from public and private sources—we constructed a comprehensive record of the evolution of nearly 200 technology start-ups. These companies were concen-
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Baron_and_Hannan_2002 - Organizational Blueprints for...

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