Joiners strengthen startups

handshake graphicA high tolerance for risk, a need for autonomy, and a desire to bring new ideas to life—sound like criteria for an entrepreneur? New research by Michael Roach, the J. Thomas and Nancy W. Clark Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, shows that “joiners”—people drawn to startups as employees rather than founders—share these entrepreneurial characteristics but to a lesser degree than those who want to be a founder. In addition, joiners tend to be attracted to functional job roles within startups rather than the managerial role of the founder.

And there are a lot more joiners than founders. Among the 4,200 doctoral candidates surveyed, 46 percent reported an interest in joining a startup as an employee, while only 11 percent expected to found their own company. Moreover, joiner interests tended to emerge in settings that encourage entrepreneurship, while founder interests appear to be more innate. Roach thinks this is valuable information for university entrepreneurship programs.

“Most university programs designed to foster entrepreneurship focus on training people to become founders. But founders make up a small share of the entrepreneurial workforce,” Roach said. “And we do little to train the larger share of people who will work in startups as employees.”