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Top Executives’ Experiences May Hold Back Innovative Ventures

In a new article due to be published at the Journal of Management Studies, Assistant Professor Hakan Ener at the Management and Quantitative Methods Department reports surprising evidence based on his analysis of innovative ventures: more experience among top executives may hold back their success in developing new business opportunities.  

Hakan EnerIn his analysis, Dr. Ener tracked ventures in the US biotechnology industry over a 20-year period, and examined their success with developing new products. In this industry, top executives gain experience in product markets aimed at alleviating different diseases, such as heart disease or infectious disease. The analyses revealed that when a biotechnology venture began to develop products for a market that was new to the firm, it benefited from having top executives with 2 to 3 years of experience at previous employers in managing product development projects for the same product market. However, with greater experience, the venture’s product development projects failed more often.

These findings are important because they suggest that top executives and recruiters need to ask themselves in what ways past experience is relevant and beneficial for performing well in their industry. If highly experienced executives stick to what worked well in the past, and search for new business opportunities similar to what they already know, this may hold back their employers, especially in fast-changing industries.

The title of Dr. Ener’s article is: “Do Prior Experiences of Top Executives Enable or Hinder Product Market Entry?” and is forthcoming at the Journal of Management Studies, in the Special Issue on Entry.


Hakan Ener joins us in the Management and Quantitative Methods Department as an Assistant Professor in the field of entrepreneurship. Previously, he created and taught entrepreneurship courses for IESE Business School in Europe, the United States, and Brazil. His experience includes serving as the academic director of a program in which mid-career managers created new businesses within large corporations. That program received the "Excellence in Practice" award from the European Foundation for Management Development in the "Talent Development" category.

His research is on entrepreneurial teams and is published in such journals as the Journal of Management Studies, Strategic Organization, Industrial and Corporate Change, and the Journal of International Management. He contributed as an entrepreneurship expert to the newspaper Financial Times, and he has published teaching-oriented case studies through Harvard Business Publishing.

Dr. Ener holds a Ph.D. in Management (with a specialization in strategy), which he completed at INSEAD Business School's locations in France and Singapore.

2018-10-05T08:55:55.501-05:00 2018