Founder's Human Capital and the Entrepreneurial Process Duration

  • Syed Rizwan Shahid Pirzada

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis presents three quantitative empirical studies, utilising two US cohorts from the harmonised Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics (PSED), to advance our understanding of the relationship between nascent entrepreneurs’ human capital and duration to different entrepreneurial outcomes. Each chapter provides a distinct perspective across three dimensions: (1) human capital, age and sector impact duration to a profitable outcome, (2) the association of human capital and age with the founder’s exit; and finally, (3) human capital impact on the duration to a profitable outcome with a different spatial scope of sales.

Following the introductory chapter, in chapter 2, the human capital perspective is used to investigate how the level of human capital and the founder’s age influence the likelihood of profitable venture creation in a shorter duration. This chapter extends research in nascent entrepreneurship that hitherto has largely overlooked the duration perspective to an entrepreneurial process outcome. This chapter stresses that hi-tech start-up particularly benefits from the nascent entrepreneur’s higher educational attainment in terms of shorter duration until the profitable outcome, and find that age has a non-linear relationship with the speed of the profitable venture outcome.

Chapter 3 examines how a founder’s human capital factors and age influence the likelihood of a founder’s exit, and duration to an exit, from the entrepreneurial process. This chapter also extends its focus to human capital interactions to establish which combinations are more likely to reduce an earlier prospect of a founder’s disengagement from the entrepreneurial process. The chapter, also adds to the literature on how founders, with higher human capital, learn quickly and make intelligent choices to disengage without incurring heavy personal and societal costs. A non-linear relationship is found between the founder’s age and the duration to disengagement.

Finally, chapter 4, seeks to understand how a founder’s human capital affects the profitable outcome, and the duration to such an outcome, at the different spatial scopes of sales. This paper takes a new approach and adds to the international entrepreneurship literature by clarifying how the founder’s human capital factors impact rapid (born global) and incremental (international new ventures) spatial scope strategies differently. Among the general human capital, a university degree is valuable across all types of spatial scopes of sales in terms of profitable venture creation in a shorter duration. However, start-up experience (specific human capital) only tends to be vital for international scope in terms of the shorter duration to create a profitable new venture.

Altogether, the thesis advances our understanding of the important role of the founder’s human capital dimensions in nascent entrepreneurship, in the duration either to a profitable venture creation or to exit, which is underdeveloped in the existing literature. The thesis paves the way for future, both theoretical and empirical research, into nascent entrepreneurship process duration by analysing the direct effects of various aspects of social capital.
Date of AwardMar 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorTomasz Mickiewicz (Supervisor), Anna S Rebmann (Supervisor) & Paul Reynolds (Supervisor)


  • Entrepreneurial Process Duration
  • Human Capital
  • Duration Studies
  • Nascent Entrepreneurship
  • Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics (PSED)

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