Benefits and drawbacks of startup team heterogeneity

In this vignette, post-doctoral research fellow Michael Stuetzer considers some of the benefits and drawbacks associated with team start-ups.

Start-ups in innovative industries are often created by teams rather than individual entrepreneurs. Furthermore team started ventures seem to outperform solo started ventures. The overt success of entrepreneurial teams can be attributed to the logic that particularly innovative industries might require more skills and knowledge than an individual would be likely to posses, necessitating that individuals combine their abilities in teams in order to start-up successfully. But how do we build a successful start-up team?

Academic research usually portrays functional heterogeneity in a start-up team as a good thing. A range of arguments related to the scope of team member’s functional background (e.g. more knowledge, pooling of resources, higher creativity) support this view. However, business history is full of shocking stories about heterogeneous start-up teams who dissolved in bitter fights stemming from communication problems and internal conflicts.

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