Criteria for corporate venturing: Importance assigned by managers

Wayne Desarbo, Ian C. macmillan, Diana L. Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Little is known about what really makes ventures succeed or fail and therefore, what one should consider when deciding whether or not to back a corporate venture. What is required are many more systematic studies of the venturing process. In this study we look at one small part of the process; the way in which managers go about evaluating a venture and what importance they attach to the various criteria they use to assess corporate ventures as they decide whether or not to support them. The other issue of interest is whether, with venture decision-making experience, there is a shift in the importance of criteria. Do managers inexperienced in venturing, start off with one set of weightings on criteria and then learn by experience to weigh criteria differently? Nearly every venture decision will be reviewed or have to pass some form of limited approval by, or get logistical support from, at least some managers who may be inexperienced. The degree of their support and approval will depend on the inexperienced managers' model of what constitutes an appropriate venture. Therefore, it is important to study both the novice and the experienced venture manager. This study used conjoint measurement procedures to quantify the importance of several factors to managers making go/no-go decisions as to whether they would support a series of hypothetical corporate ventures. The results indicate that there is a very high correlation between the judgements of inexperienced managers and those that have had some involvement in venture decision making. In virtually every case the direction of the preference for levels is identical. The effect of experience is not to change the model that the manager uses, but rather to crystallize the preferences and tradeoffs involved. The most interesting result was the overriding importance attached to corporate fit. The message is clear: do not expect support from any managers, inexperienced or otherwise, if there is no perceived fit between the firm and the venture. There were also relatively high levels of importance attached to seven other variables: size of investment, presence of an experienced venture champion, corporate experience with product, low threat of competition, utilization of proprietary technology, rate of return, and gross margin. For the sample in this study an optimal venture proposal can be described via the following criteria: • High corporate fit • Low initial investment • Experienced venture champion • Experience with product/service • Low competitive threat • Proprietory technology • High gross margin • High rate of return.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-350
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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