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"Innovative start-ups are often considered to be a key source of innovation and job creation. As such they are the subject of several types of supportive public policies. This study examines the short-term and long-term effects of business incubators on the performance of innovative start-ups in terms of sales revenues and job creation. A large sample of N-¯=-¯2544 innovative Italian start-ups, of which 606 were incubated, was followed over a period of up to six years. Tobit and Poisson regressions and propensity-score matching analyses point towards a significant negative effect of incubator tenancy on sales revenues and no significant effect of incubation on job creation. Findings also suggest that the initially negative effect of incubation on sales revenues turns into a positive effect in the long term. The effects of incubator characteristics, in terms of ownership, certification, and size on the growth of tenant start-ups were further analysed, but these effects were found to be negligible. The study contributes to the literature on the evidence-based evaluation of business incubation performance. It suggests that public policy makers should lower their expectations regarding the numbers of new jobs created by business incubation support."


"A classical approach to collecting and elaborating information to make entrepreneurial decisions combines search heuristics, such as trial and error, effectuation, and confirmatory search. This paper develops a framework for exploring the implications of a more scientific approach to entrepreneurial decision making. The panel sample of our randomized control trial includes 116 Italian startups and 16 data points over a period of about one year. Both the treatment and control groups receive 10 sessions of general training on how to obtain feedback from the market and gauge the feasibility of their idea. We teach the treated startups to develop frameworks for predicting the performance of their idea and conduct rigorous tests of their hypotheses, very much as scientists do in their research. We let the firms in the control group instead follow their intuitions about how to assess their idea, which has typically produced fairly standard search heuristics. We find that entrepreneurs who behave like scientists perform better, are more likely to pivot to a different idea, and are not more likely to drop out than the control group in the early stages of the startup. These results are consistent with the main prediction of our theory: a scientific approach improves precision—it reduces the odds of pursuing projects with false positive returns and increases the odds of pursuing projects with false negative returns."

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