From Founders to Fruition

Christine Beckman

Do Initial Leaders Set the Road to Riches…or to Ruins?
UC Irvine Merage School Professor Christine M. Beckman, together with M. Diane Burton from Cornell University, have published a series of papers* exploring the functional diversity and depth of expertise among founding members of start-up teams. They look at how those factors might affect the development of the team over time and the ability to reach important milestones such as a successful IPO bid. Early decisions made by company founders can make lasting organizational imprints on fledgling companies, far beyond the initial start-up phase.  These early decisions may impact a company’s ability to secure funding, retain key executives, and ultimately affect their ability to grow and succeed.

Merage on the Move

UC Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business leaps to #36 in the 2011 US News national MBA rankings.

Collaboration with top CEOs fuels success.

"This is exciting news and an affirmation of the success of the initiatives we have set into place over the last few years to enhance our program to better meet the demands and expectations of our business community,” says Dean Andrew J. Policano.

The Merage School Mission is to:

Enhance socially responsible, sustainable growth through
- Strategic innovation
- Analytical decision making
- Information technology, and
- Collaborative execution.

Among those initiatives and programs is an emphasis in:

  --  Globalization
  --  Leadership
  --  Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  --  Sustainability & Social Responsibility
  --  Financial Accountability
  --  Program Reviews

Our programs provide each student with:

Innovation to shape the future;
Personalization to shape you.

Ever wonder how your own approach to launching a new business might affect its ultimate success? Step into the CEO shoes of your very own start-up and answer these three questions as best you can (there are no wrong answers). Then, click “Submit” to learn how the research predicts your business might fare.

1. Quickly rate your own past business experience in each of the following functional areas.

Years of Experience
 Sales and marketing
 General administration
 Operations/supply chain
 Business development/strategic planning

2. One of your first decisions will be to choose those who will help you build your company
from scratch. Are you more likely to:

work with a partner or partners with whom you have worked before (in the same department or area).
seek out a partner or partners with specific expertise and backgrounds that are different from your own.

3. At what point are you likely to hire a person dedicated to a particular function
(vs. having a team member(s) hold multiple functional positions early on)?

1 = Development phase2 = After some success3 = Once fully established/can afford position4 = Never
 Sales and marketing VP
 General administration/HR VP
 Engineering/R&D VP
 Operations/supply chain VP
 Business development/strategic VP
 Finance/accounting VP
* “Founding the Future: Path Dependence in the Evolution of Top Management Teams from Founding to IP0,” Organization Science, Volume 19, No. 1, Jan/Feb 2008, pp. 3-24. “Leaving a Legacy: Position Imprints and Successor Turnover in Young Firms,” American Sociological Review, Volume 72, pp. 239-266.