Models of Innovation: Startups and Mature Corporations

by John Freeman, Jerome Engel

Fall 2007

Volume 50
Issue 1

Full Article Browse Issue



The innovation process occurs in two ways, the Corporate Model and the Entrepreneurship model. Corporations have many competitive advantages that they can use to succeed against startups. In a one-on-one competition, the startup usually has less capital, fewer scientists and engineers, less legitimacy or brand presence, fewer strategic alliances, evolving organizational structures, and incomplete or even non-existent business processes. Young firms have the liabilities of newness and smallness, so they fail at higher rates than do their larger and older competitors. However, the structural and managerial advantages associated with established companies also disadvantage them. Innovation requires two important underlying conditions. First, resources must be mobile. Second, incentives must be aligned so that those who provide these resources, especially financial resources, succeed along with innovators who are engaged in risky activities that generally require extraordinary levels of effort. When resources are immobile, and incentives are misaligned, the innovation process in established firms slows. Under these circumstances, entrepreneurs can start companies, develop the capabilities of those companies, and bring new products to market relatively quickly.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

Learn more
Follow Us