In progress Capturing the Strategic Value of Corporate Venturing



Research on the topic of Corporate Venturing (CV) and Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) has grown substantially in recent years (e.g. Alvarez-Garrido & Dushnitsky, 2016; Colombo & Shafi, 2016; Gaba & Dokko, 2016; Pahnke, Katila & Eisenhardt, 2015; Wadhwa, Phelps & Kotha, 2016; Yang, Narayanan & De Carolis, 2014). Similarly, from a practitioners’ point of view, CVC is now the second largest source of funding for startups, behind independent Venture Capital (Dushnitsky, 2006). However, while we have learned much about the motivations, antecedents and potential performance outcomes of Corporate Venturing on both the investing firm- and venture-level, we still lack a clear understanding of the mechanisms behind value creation and capture, as well as the circumstances under which value creation is most substantial. In our first paper, a meta analysis on the relationship between CV and firm performance, we draw on Real Options Theory and Organizational Learning Theory in order to outline the potential role of environmental uncertainty and Intellectual Property Protection Regimes as contextual moderators on this relationship. In the second paper, a conceptual piece, we complement this research by highlighting the role of reciprocal venture performance effects in explaining investing firm performance. Moreover, we show how these reciprocal venture performance effects may reduce the risk of firm-level misappropriation behavior. Finally, the third paper, based on a longitudinal case studies approach, focuses on both dyad-level and portfolio-level management processes as important contributors to both firm- and venture-level value creation. Through these three projects, we hope to make a contribution to the theoretical development of this field and achieve managerial relevance simultaneously.


Innovation, corporate venturing, external knowledge sourcing, growth, collaboration, entrepreneurship

Time frame

2016 - 2020


Corporate venture capital (CVC) has received an increasing amount of attention in the academic literature over the past decade (Yang et al., 2014). Prior studies can be classified along three different units of analysis: the corporate parent, the venturing unit, and the portfolio company. First, prior research has addressed the perspective of the corporate to engage in corporate venturing. Studies have investigated the motivations of firms to engage in CVC (Basu et al., 2011), learning benefits from CVC (Dushnitksy and Shaver, 2009), the impact on a firm’s financial performance (Dushnitky and Lenox, 2006), and the impact on a firm’s innovative performance (Basu and Wadhwa, 2013; Dushnitsky and Lenox, 2005; Ernst et al., 2005; Wadhwa and Kotha, 2006). Results of these studies indicate that corporate venture capital investments have a positive effect on innovative performance in general (Dushnitsky & Lenox, 2005; Wadhwa & Kotha, 2006), the creation of pioneering technologies (Van de Vrande et al., 2011a), and corporate wealth creation (Yang et al., 2014). Moreover, the success rate of CVC investments is higher when investments are made in related industries (Gompers, 2002; Keil et al., 2008). Finally, prior research has shown that CVC investments create most value when they are used in combination with other strategies, such as strategic alliances or M&As (Van de Vrande, 2013; Van de Vrande et al., 2011b)

Second, the corporate venturing unit as such has been the subject of another stream of research investigating the performance and survival of venturing units (Hill and Birkinshaw, 2008), the positioning of the venturing unit in the parent organization (Biniari et al., 2015; Souitaris and Zerbinati, 2014) and the transfer of knowledge back to the parent organization (Basu et al., 2015). Results of these studies indicate that also corporate venturing units have greater chance of survival when they act ambidextrously (Hill and Birkinshaw, 2014) and that corporate venturing units choose to align with either the internal organization or the external environment, depending on the desired legitimacy and the characteristics of the top management team (Souitaris et al., 2012).

Finally, scholars have also more recently started to examine the effects of CVC on the portfolio companies, by trying to understand the motivations of portfolio companies to obtain CVC (Maula et al., 2005), how to manage the relationship with the corporate investor (Hallen et al., 2014) and the effect of CVC on entrepreneurial development and innovation (Maula et al., 2009; Pahnke et al., 2015; Park and Steensma, 2013). These studies show that although corporate venture capital is complementary to traditional venture capital in developing young, entrepreneurial ventures (Maula et al., 2005), portfolio companies of corporate investors show higher innovation rates compared to independent VC-backed companies (Alvarez-Garrido and Dushnitsky, 2015).

Although the performance effects of CVC are relatively well known, there is still a need to better understand the structure and organization of CVC within the investor organization. Prior research on the structure and organization of corporate venturing has mainly focused on the separation / integration debate, arguing that a certain level of separation is important for the unit to maintain its entrepreneurial nature, while integration forms a necessary component to transfer the knowledge obtained through corporate venture capital investments back to the parent organization. However, there are still a number of questions that are worth investigating that can help us understand the differential performance effects of corporate venturing. This research project therefore focuses on the internal organization of the corporate venturing unit and performance effects for both the corporate investor as well as the portfolio companies.

First of all, following the research by Souitaris, Zerbinati and Liu (2015), it is likely that the alignment with either the internal organization or the external environment has implications for the selection and development of portfolio companies. How the positioning of the corporate venturing unit internally affects the selection of investees, the development, and also their exit possibilities, however, has not yet been addressed in prior research. In a similar vein, the alignment with the financial, operational, or technological targets of the company will undoubtedly affect the positioning and management of the corporate venturing unit. This is another question that still needs to be addressed. Third, in today’s global business environment, it is unlikely that corporate venturing units are confined to making investments in their own geographical location. This raises questions as to how and when international investments are undertaken en how these can best be managed in order to address different investment motives such as technological versus market development. These, and other, questions are all part of the broader research question: What is the effect of the organization of corporate venturing in capturing its strategic value?

Supervisory Team

Pursey Heugens
Professor of Organization Theory, Development, and Change, Scientific Director ERIM, Dean of Research RSM
  • Promotor
Justin Jansen
Professor of Corporate Entrepreneurship
  • Promotor
Vareska van de Vrande
Professor of Collaborative Innovation and Business Venturing
  • Copromotor
  • Daily Supervisor