At the beginning of November, entrepreneurship scholars convened at the University of Georgia Tech to kick off the annual Roundtable for Engineering Entrepreneurship Research (REER) Conference. The conference is one of the more interesting and relevant entrepreneurship conferences I have attended this year, and I want to share the highlights of several papers presented.
1. Non-Competes in the Labor Force
Norman Bishara, JJ Prescott, Evan Starr
Topic: What is the landscape of non-compete agreements among employees in the U.S.? How does enforcement of non-compete agreements affect individuals?
Next steps for research: The discussant and audience was careful to advise the authors to tune their findings to avoid simplifications such as, “getting rid of non-competes will turn states into new Silicon Valleys.” This work also provided a rare snapshot of the non-compete environment and its widespread presence. In addition, more data efforts to illuminate where and how non-competes are used would be valuable.
2. Entrepreneurial Adaptation and Social Networks: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment on a MOOC Platform
Charles Eesley (Kauffman Dissertation Fellow, 2007), Lynn Wu
Topic: Does a planning or adaptive entrepreneurial mindset matter? How do entrepreneurs with planning or adaptive approaches to entrepreneurship fare in entrepreneurship courses and during the initial years of their startup?
Next steps for research: The discussant accurately identified that the direction of the effect is not definitive. This experiment could be showing the impact of a diverse mentor on an adaptive strategy or the impact of an adaptive strategy on an entrepreneur with a diverse mentor. This work provides 1) initial evidence about the relationship between entrepreneurs and mentors and 2) how those mixes lead to more successful entrepreneurship. There remain a number of different variables on which to categorize entrepreneurs and mentors to more deeply explore how mentors shape successful entrepreneurs.
3. Entrepreneurship and the School of Hard Knocks: Evidence from China’s Great Famine
Junhong Chu, Ivan P.L. Png, Junjian Yi
Topic: Does economic hardship spur more entrepreneurship? If so, how?
Next steps for research: This work complements a popular psychological theory of entrepreneur development known as “the school of hard knocks.” The results from this quasi-experiment lend support to the idea that from dire conditions, entrepreneurs emerge, due to increased risk tolerance. While there is some support that entrepreneurs succeed in challenging environments and more evidence that risk tolerance predicts more entrepreneurship, understanding whether and how particular personality traits influence entrepreneurial propensity and success deserves more work.
REER has become one of my favorite conferences to attend. The quality of the research presented was high throughout the weekend and covered a number of topics beyond the ones mentioned here, including cumulative innovation, the speed of technology adoption, and the career path of STEM talent. As well, this group of researchers understands the necessity for their work to extend beyond the classroom and academic journals to improve the world.
We highlighted last year’s conference as well. Click here to check out last year’s summary of the conference.
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