Scholarly work

These are articles written for a scholarly audience. For these, the titles are in blue so they are easier to read.  You can email me here to request a copy of any of the following papers. Or you can click on the links below and be taken to the publishers’ websites.

Forbes, D. 2017. “’Born, not made’ and other beliefs about entrepreneurial ability.” In G. Ahmetoglu et al. (Eds.), The Wiley Handbook of Entrepreneurship, 273-291. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Link to the chapter at Wiley Online.

Despite longstanding scholarly interest in the claim that “entrepreneurs are born, not made”, the belief that entrepreneurial ability is inborn remains largely unexamined. Many people around the world hold this belief, even though the belief itself is inconsistent with contemporary social science. To advance research in this area, I review social psychological research on “essentialism,” the idea that members of large social groups possess an underlying set of immutable characteristics. I extend these ideas to occupational groups and introduce a construct to capture the belief that entrepreneurs possess an underlying essence that is fixed and inborn. I go on to explain how this belief is likely to affect choices people make about the creation and management of new ventures.

Vanacker, T. & Forbes, D. 2016. “Disentangling the multiple effects of affiliate reputation on resource attraction in new firms.” Organization Science, 27: 1525-1547. Link to the article.

New firms can enhance their attractiveness to prospective resource providers by affiliating with more reputable firms. But research on this process has yet to fully account for two critical realities: 1) firms need to acquire resources from different groups of resource providers and 2) reputation is multidimensional. We explore whether two groups of resource providers will respond differently to new firms’ affiliations in accordance with differences in the groups’ abilities to recognize and interpret reputation-related signals. Taken together, the findings show that new firms’ resource attraction trajectories are shaped by their affiliates in more complex ways than past research has accounted for.

Forbes, D.  2014. “The infrastructure of entrepreneurial learning.”  In J.R. Mitchell, R.K. Mitchell & B. Randolph-Seng (Eds.), The Handbook of Entrepreneurial Cognition, 364-382. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Link to the chapter.

The quantity and quality of entrepreneurial activity in a society are shaped by the extent to which people in that society possess knowledge relevant to the practice of entrepreneurship.  Over the past several decades, there has emerged a rich set of resources that help people acquire entrepreneurship-related knowledge.  Although many of these resources are individually familiar to entrepreneurship scholars, their collective emergence and impact remains theoretically underappreciated.  In this essay, I propose a new way of thinking about these resources, and I consider their implications for future research.

Forbes, D. & Kirsch, D.  2011.  “The study of emerging industries: Recognizing and responding to some central problems.”  Journal of Business Venturing,  26: 589-602. Link to the article here or access the accepted version here.

New industry emergence is an important phenomenon that remains relatively neglected by researchers.  We address several theoretical and methodological problems that impede the study of emerging industries.  In doing so, we propose that historical archives represent a critical and under-utilized research resource.  More generally, we contend that advancing the study of emerging industries will require scholars to develop several distinct categories of research, to make more extensive use of qualitative and historical data, to collaborate across traditional boundaries of domain and method and to engage key practitioners, including professional archivists and institutional entrepreneurs.

Forbes, D., Korsgaard, M.A. & Sapienza, H.  2010.  “Financing decisions as a source of conflict in venture boards.”  Journal of Business Venturing, 25: 579-592. Link to the article.

Governance scholarship has suggested that boards should be structured so as to stimulate internal conflict.  However, structure is a weak predictor of board effectiveness.  Moreover, conflict can be dysfunctional, especially when it is focused on relationships, rather than tasks.  We show that venture boards experience more conflict when they make financing decisions that involve devaluation of the venture and that this effect is moderated by whether the CEO is a founder.  Our findings should prompt venture governance scholars to reconsider the importance of board structure, the value of board conflict and the behavior of founder- versus non-founder CEOs.

Forbes, D.  2007.  “Reconsidering the strategic implications of decision comprehensiveness.”  Academy of Management Review, 32: 361-376. Link to the article.

A key question in strategy is whether comprehensiveness enables firms to make better strategic decisions in various environments.  I identify two problems hindering efforts to answer this question: past studies have generally theorized about a different dependent variable than they have measured, and they have conflated the concepts of uncertainty, ambiguity and instability in accounting for environmental moderation.  I then reframe the question and propose ways of characterizing organizational information environments so researchers can identify more precisely those real-world contexts across which the value of comprehensiveness varies.

Forbes, D., Borchert, P., Zellmer-Bruhn, M. & Sapienza, H.  2006.  “Entrepreneurial team formation: An exploration of new member addition.”  Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 30: 225-248. Link to the article.

We explored in this article the process of entrepreneurial team formation.  As theory specific to this topic is scant, we drew first upon disparate views of team formation and its correlates; we then called upon in-depth interviews to provide deeper, nuanced insights into this dynamic process of creation.  Our focus is team member addition.  We identified resource-seeking and interpersonal attraction as primary alternative motivators for new teammate addition; however, we also illustrated how these motivations may be complementary in practice.  Finally, we considered in depth how new member identification and selection processes may unfold as new ventures are formed.

Forbes, D.  2006.  “Cognitive approaches to new venture creation.”  In P. Davidsson (Ed.), New Firm Startups.  Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.  (Originally published in 1999 in the  International Journal of Management Reviews.) Link to the article.

This paper reviews recent studies that take a cognitive approach to new venture creation and categorizes them according to the stage of venture development with which they are concerned.  Key issues discussed include the formation of entrepreneurial intentions, the sensemaking processes of scanning, interpretation and action, the use of schema and heuristics in decision making and the phenomenon of entrepreneurial alertness.  Several preliminary research conclusions are drawn, and the implications of these findings for the practice of entrepreneurship are considered.  Finally, several promising avenues for future research are explored.

Forbes, D.  2005.  “The effects of strategic decision making on entrepreneurial self-efficacy.”  Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 29: 599-626. Link to the article.

This study builds on the construct of entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE), which measures the degree to which individuals believe they are capable of performing the tasks associated with new venture management.  I examined whether entrepreneurs’ levels of ESE are influenced by the ways in which their ventures make strategic decisions.  Results show that entrepreneurs exhibit a stronger belief in their own abilities when their ventures make decisions in ways that involve other employees, that are more comprehensive, and that incorporate more current information.  Exploratory analyses also provide preliminary evidence that ESE enhances firm performance.

Forbes, D.  2005.  “Are some entrepreneurs more overconfident than others?”  Journal of Business Venturing, 20: 623-640. Link to the article.

Entrepreneurs are more susceptible to certain cognitive biases than are managers who are not entrepreneurs, but it is not clear why.  In an effort to help explain why, I examine differences in the degree to which entrepreneurs exhibit the overconfidence bias.  Results show that individual age, firm decision comprehensiveness and external equity funding affect the degree to which entrepreneurs are overconfident.  In addition, founder-managers are shown to be more overconfident than are new venture managers who did not found their firms.  The results suggest that entrepreneurs’ cognitive biases are a function of both individual and contextual factors.

Forbes, D.  2005.  “Managerial determinants of decision speed in new ventures.”  Strategic Management Journal, 26: 355-366. Link to the article.

This study helps explain why some new ventures make strategic decisions more quickly than others.  Drawing on life course theory and human capital theory, I develop a model of how entrepreneurs’ individual characteristics affect new venture decision speed.  I test the model using survey data from 98 Internet startups and their founder-managers.  Results show that firms made faster decisions when they were managed by older entrepreneurs and by those with prior entrepreneurial experience.  In addition, exploratory analyses indicating that fast decision-making firms were more likely to close may indicate that prevailing theory in this area is contextually limited.

Forbes, D., Manrakhan, S. & Banerjee, S.  2004.  “Strategic responses to an environmental jolt: Executive turnover in Internet IPOs.”  Journal of Private Equity, 8: 63-69.

A sudden downturn in environmental munificence can prompt firms to undertake dramatic, irreversible strategic actions.  Little is known, however, about the factors that influence such actions in such circumstances.  Pressures for strategic responses to the Internet crash were felt acutely by those firms that had recently completed an initial public offering (IPO).  In this article, we help to explain a specific type of strategic action that firms can take in response to negative environmental change: the replacement of the CEO.  We show that characteristics of the CEO him/herself affect the likelihood that their firms will take this action.

Sapienza, H., Korsgaard, M.A. & Forbes, D.  2003.  “The self-determination motive and entrepreneurs’ choice of financing.”  In J. Katz & D. Shepherd (Eds.), Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence & Growth, vol. 6: 105-138.  Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Link to the chapter.

Capital structure decisions are very much dependent on the owner’s personal preference for risk-taking, rather than on a strict evaluation of relative costs for different financial possibilities.  From the small business owner’s point of view, staying in control and remaining independent can be challenged when and if he/she admits an external financier into the businesss, in that the external financier may be perceived to interfere with the visions of the small business manager.  In this chapter, we explain how the fear of losing control over the business influences the owner/manager’s attitudes towards and use of external financial sources.

Forbes, D. & Milliken, F.  1999.  “Cognition and corporate governance: Understanding boards of directors as strategic decision making groups.”  Academy of Management Review, 24: 489-505. Link to the article.

Recent research developments underscore the need for research on the processes that link board demography with firm performance.  In this article, we develop a model of board processes by integrating the literature on boards of directors with the literature on group dynamics and workgroup effectiveness.  The resulting model illuminates the complexity of board dynamics and paves the way for future empirical research that expands and refines our understanding of what makes boards effective.

Forbes, D.  1998.  “Measuring the unmeasurable: Empirical studies of nonprofit organization effectiveness from 1977 to 1997.”  Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 27: 183-202. Link to the article.

The subject of organizational effectiveness in nonprofit organizations is important to both practitioners and researchers.  In spite of this, empirical research on the subject had never been comprehensively reviewed.  This article reviewed empirical studies of nonprofit effectiveness published over a 20-year period.  The review reveals that researchers have conceptualized effectiveness in a variety of ways and that the research objectives pursued in the study of effectiveness have changed over time.  The review also shows that most recent research has emphasized issues of process over measurement.


 Forbes, D., Korsgaard, M.A. & Sapienza, H.  2005.  “Board conflict in the aftermath of the market crash.”  In S. Zahra et al (Eds.), Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Proceedings of the Babson-Kauffman Entrepreneurial Research Conference.

This paper was subsequently published as “Financing decisions as a source of conflict in venture boards” (see above).

Villanueva, J., Forbes, D., Zellmer-Bruhn, M. & Sapienza, H.  2005.  “The entrepreneurial intentions of academic scientist-inventors.”  In S. Zahra et al (Eds.), Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Proceedings of the Babson-Kauffman Entrepreneurial Research Conference.

The creation of spinoffs by academic-inventors stimulates economic development and develops state-of-the-art technology.  We examine why academic-inventors commercialize inventions through the creation of a start-up.  Drawing on data from a sample of 327 surveys of scientist-inventors from seven major universities around the U.S., we explore the relationship between inventors’ motivations to file an invention disclosure and their intentions to start a spinoff, among other variables.  Social motivations (i.e., a desire to enhance the social good) had the strongest relationship with intention to start.  However, neither research reputation nor institutional context was related to this intention.


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