Entrepreneurial finance meets organizational reality: comparing investment practices and performance of corporate and independent venture capitalists



This paper investigates the effect of compensation of corporate personnel on their investment in new technologies. We focus on a specific corporate activity, namely corporate venture capital (CVC), describing minority equity investment by established-firms in entrepreneurial ventures. The setting offers an opportunity to compare corporate investors to investment experts, the independent venture capitalists (IVCs). On average, we observe a performance gap between corporate investors and their independent counterparts. Interestingly, the performance gap is sensitive to CVCs' compensation scheme: it is the largest when CVC personnel are awarded performance pay. Not only do we study the association between incentives and performance but we also document a direct relationship between incentives and the actions managers undertake. For example, we observe disparity between the number of participants in venture capital syndicates that involve a corporate investor, and those that consist solely of IVCs. The disparity shrinks substantially, however, for a subset of CVCs that compensate their personnel using performance pay. We find a parallel pattern when analyzing the relationship between compensation and another investment practice, staging of investment. To conclude, the paper investigates the three elements of the principal-agent framework, thus providing direct evidence that compensation schemes (incentives) shape investment practices (managerial action), and ultimately investors' outcome (performance). Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.