Join the Amsterdam Business School
at the University of Amsterdam
(UvA) to shape the future of entrepreneurship research. We are seeking to nurture an ambitious and enthusiastic PhD candidate that will join our Entrepreneurship and Innovation section
on September 1st, 2023.Project description"There's an essential, intangible something in start-ups-an energy, a soul. Company founders sense its presence. So do early employees and customers. It inspires people to contribute their talent, money, and enthusiasm and fosters a sense of deep connection and mutual purpose."
(Gulati, R. 2019. The Soul of a Start-Up. Harvard Business Review
Startups must obtain resources from a variety of stakeholders. This project is built around the idea that these stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and society at large, associate a unique and distinguishable character with organizations operating under the label "startup" (with variations including "tech startup", "AI startup", "scaleup", "unicorn", etc.). This is important because organizations, just like individuals, may either enjoy or suffer the consequences of being associated with certain labels and stereotypes. Regardless of other relevant considerations, simply being called a "startup" can therefore be linked with both positive and negative social evaluations. For example, cultural messages about startups associate these organizations with innovation, visionary leaders, and the underdog drive to disrupt industries. At the same time, however, startups may also and receive harsher judgments due to uncertainty about their underlying quality and potential or doubts about their legitimacy and credibility. This project aims to unpack the conditions under which the meaning associated with startup-related labels emerges and how such labels might independently shape evaluations and resource provision by different stakeholders. Answering such questions is crucial not only because it will contribute to theories of social evaluations in entrepreneurship and management, but also because the current hype around startups demands a better understanding of the power encapsulated in such labels, acknowledging their increasing strategic use (e.g., for competitive differentiation or persuasive stakeholder communication) and misuse (e.g., for stakeholder deception and other ethical lapses).
Key questions include:
- What are the set of meanings and expectations that different stakeholder groups associate with the startup label?
- how does the startup label shape interactions between entrepreneurs and different stakeholder groups, including resource acquisition from stakeholders?
- what are the implications of combining or replacing the startup label with other relevant labels (e.g., AI startup, unicorn, scaleup, etc.)?
Example sub-projects include:
- An exploration of the set of meanings and expectations implied by the startup label as well as the likelihood that this label is associated with different combinations of observed organizational attributes (e.g., location, size, age, demographic composition, growth stage, funding stage, industry sector, business model, etc.);
- looking into whether and how the startup label is used strategically by entrepreneurs when interacting with different stakeholder groups (e.g., job seekers vs. investors vs. customers vs. the wider public) or under different conditions (e.g., different countries and ecosystems or under varying economic climates), including the potential "dark side" of the startup label (e.g., when used for stakeholder deception or when it deters some people from engaging with the company);
- testing how the startup label interacts with other prominent labels (tech startups vs. AI startup vs. medical device startups) and the extent to which such combinatorial labels lead to different outcomes;
- assessing the reasons and implications of discarding the startup label (e.g., when transitioning from startup to scaleup)?
During your PhD, you will be trained to conduct primarily quantitative empirical research aimed at advancing entrepreneurship research in top-tier academic journals. You will also be an active member of a research lab focused on the study of startups. As a member of this lab within the Entrepreneurship and Innovation section, you will benefit from, and contribute to a broader research agenda, networks, initiatives, resources, and input from a larger group of experienced researchers.Your tasks
- Become a member of a collaborative team;
- co-planning and conducting research (including the design of the studies, and the collection and analysis of empirical data);
- write up findings for publication in prestigious entrepreneurship and management journals;
- present research findings at leading international conferences;
- attend classes and seminars (including those offered at other universities) to further develop thinking and research skills;
- participate in and contribute to research activities at the section and lab (e.g., research seminars and research meetings);
- assist in relevant teaching and knowledge dissemination activities.
- At least 3 manuscripts ready for submission to or already published in top academic journals (adequate collegial support and mentorship will be provided);
- placement at a research university in a tenure track position;
- continued collaboration with the lab and its members.