Influence of gender and social networks on organizational learning within technology incubators

Document Type


Publication Date



New technology‐based ventures (NTBVs) gain access to beneficial social capital through their affiliation with technology incubators, organizations created to facilitate learning leading to the successful development of nascent firms. Scillitoe and Chakrabarti (2005, 2) identified three sources of beneficial social capital within human networks, “historical ties, organizational facilitation, and trustbased shared pursuit of common goals”, with organizational facilitation identified as the primary source of beneficial social capital for ventures within technology incubators. The current study extends this prior research investigating the development of social capital of NTBVs through incubator facilitation, focusing on the influence of female founders. Results are based on surveys collected from fifty‐four technology‐based firms affiliated with technology incubators in the United States and Finland. The results from this exploratory study show that the speed of technological learning is negatively affected by the interpersonal network access in firms with female founding management team members. Technological learning includes acquiring knowledge of legal protection of intellectual property, complex technological and scientific knowledge, and design and production skills that enable the development and commercialization of NTBV products and services (Deeds, DeCarolis, and Coombs, 1999). This finding contradicts prior research that suggests technological development of ventures is positively influenced by interpersonal network access through incubators (Hansen, Chesbrough, Nohria, and Sull 2000; Scillitoe and Chakrabarti 2005). Implications for technology incubator managers, NTBV founders, and economic development agencies that support technology incubators are discussed.

Publisher's Statement

© 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Publisher’s version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/19355181200700005

Publication Title

American Journal of Business