The Relationship Between Knowledge Transfer, Top Management Team Composition, and Performance: The Case of Science-Based Entrepreneurial Firms


Mirjam Knockaert, tel.: +32 (9) 264 34 59; e-mail:, to Deniz Ucbasaran at, Mike Wright at, and to Bart Clarysse at


The increased pressure put on public research institutes to commercialize their research results has given rise to an increased academic interest in technology transfer. We assess under which conditions tacit knowledge transfer contributes to the performance of academic spin-offs. Using an inductive case study approach, our evidence suggests that tacit knowledge is most effectively transferred when a substantial part of the original research team joins the new venture as founders. Commercial expertise and mindset are also required in the team on the condition that the cognitive distance between the scientific researchers and the person responsible for commercialization is not too large.