How Startups Fight for Attention in Corporate-Startup Partnerships
New research shows that one of the most critical success factors for startups in corporate accelerator programs is corporate attention.
The research findings are contained in an article slated for publication in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal titled, “Corporate – Startup partnering: Exploring attention dynamics and relational outcomes in asymmetric settings”. The article was co-written by Anoop Madhok, Professor of Strategy and Scotiabank Chair in International Business and Entrepreneurship at Schulich, together with Shameen Prashantham, Professor of International Business and Strategy at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai.
According to Professor Madhok, large corporations and innovative startups increasingly engage in partnerships to remain competitive. For corporations, collaborations with startups help them remain at the technological forefront. For startups, large established firms provide access to much needed resources such as legitimacy, funds and market reach.
The researchers found that some startups, dubbed “hares”, got off to a fast start in terms of attracting attention from corporate managers running the startup partnering program, but subsequently became dissatisfied with the attention received from divisional managers in business units, eventually falling short of the original intent of developing a go-to-market strategy with support from the corporation. By contrast, other startups, dubbed “tortoises”, after a relatively slow start in terms of attracting corporate headquarters’ attention, were able to subsequently attract divisional managers’ attention and ultimately attained the original goal. A third set of ventures, dubbed “non-starters”, failed to build momentum from start to finish and ultimately withdrew from the program.
“This research has valuable implications for practitioners,” says Madhok. “Current work on collaboration between corporations and startups has tended to focus on the impact of trust dynamics on outcomes. In contrast, our research is among the first to establish the importance of attention dynamics. Attention is a fundamental resource in that all other resources flow from it.”