Rita McGrath

Gems from the Ashes: Capability Creation and Transformation in Internal Corporate Venturing

Coauthor(s): Thomas Keil, Taina Tukiainen.


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Our longitudinal study of the entire population of internal corporate ventures within a large European electronics manufacturer finds that the conventional focus in the corporate venturing literature to evaluate ventures based on business growth and financial performance may be misguided. Instead, we found that ventures are temporary conduits for capability development and play a primary role in launching the founding stage of new capability life cycles. Ventures’ main contribution was often to transfer valuable capabilities to other ventures or the firm’s existing business units. The benefit from investing in ventures was therefore largely independent of their commercial success. Furthermore, estimation of success rates proved highly sensitive to the stage of the ventures at which sampling began. These findings suggest the need to reconceptualize the notion of early stage ventures and their success. We further found that the venturing process can be conceptualized as a nested system of simultaneous selection at both the venture and the capability level. We show that these selection processes are distinct yet operate in a coevolutionary way and are amenable to proactive management.

Source: Organization Science
Exact Citation:
Keil, Thomas, Rita McGrath, and Taina Tukiainen. "Gems from the Ashes: Capability Creation and Transformation in Internal Corporate Venturing." Organization Science 20, no. 3 (2009): 601-620.
Volume: 20
Number: 3
Pages: 601-620
Date: 2009