POST Online Media Lite Edition


Study suggests corporate culture thwarts efforts to hire innovative candidates

Christian Fernsby |
Despite the rhetoric from CEOs about the importance of recruiting for innovation, entrepreneurs face an established hiring bias.

Article continues below

According to a recent study in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, recruiters are 23 to 29% less likely to rank a former startup founder as a top candidate against their corporate executive peers.

The authors demonstrated that recruiter characteristics can have a lot to do mitigating this bias, as does the size of a company.

The study, authored by Waverly Ding and Debra Shapiro, of the University of Maryland, and Hyeun Lee, of the University of Toronto, asked 275 managers with recruitment experience to choose a top candidate from four resumes: two listing company "founder" as the last-held position and two listing "executive."

The study's recruiters were also asked the size of their organization and to indicate "How strongly have you considered stating your own company?" on a four-point scale.

"As a general trend, the higher the job recruiter's own entrepreneurial aspiration, the less severe a penalty they assigned to a post-entrepreneur job candidate," said Lee.

Recruiters are the gateway to the job market: their evaluations determine if candidates even make it past the first stages of the hiring process.

Their own perceptions are embedded in how they evaluate job applicants' data, and those evaluations might be influenced by their knowledge of the startup market, entrepreneurial challenges, or how they view entrepreneurs.

There's also the age-old similarity bias, which suggests that recruiters are much more likely to positively evaluate applicants whom they identify with. The study suggests that the more a recruiter identifies with candidates, the more they will gauge them as a cultural fit with their organization.

This played out as entrepreneurs receiving higher ratings from 1) recruiters who could see themselves founding a company and 2) recruiters working at smaller businesses.

Startups are, by nature, small businesses. So, many of their cultural nuances would be more familiar for recruiters from smaller businesses, which might explain why entrepreneurially minded recruiters at these organizations see entrepreneurs more favorably. Some of the cultural similarities include:

Smaller businesses allow recruiters a greater role in decisions. At larger companies, candidates need to meet more qualifications and be evaluated by more people.

Entrepreneurs' generalist skillsets tend to align better at smaller companies who might need coverage across multiple positions. Larger corporations typically have more job specialization.

Both startups and small businesses are typically nimbler, less hierarchical, with more fluid cultures. Recruiters from larger corporations might evaluate entrepreneurs as a poor 'cultural fit' because of the organization's greater rigidity and bureaucracy.

While the study data suggests smaller companies are more likely to hire former entrepreneurs (if the recruiter has an affiliation for entrepreneurship), it's important to note that startup founders were still less hireable overall.

Multiple studies have found similar biases against former startup founders in the job market. Most explanations revolve around the uncertainties associated with evaluating a post-entrepreneur, including:

Start-up company names are less familiar: It's harder for recruiters to gauge the quality of candidates' experience, training, skills, and professional networks at an obscure startup. In comparison, they've likely worked with candidates from large, established corporations.

Founder positions have a sparser track record: Startups usually work in niche markets or on highly specific products. They aren't launching new products or repeatedly performing the same tasks every quarter, which gives recruiters less data to evaluate their performance.

Corporate and entrepreneur skillsets are misaligned: Startup founders necessarily need to be generalists. But most positions in large corporations are highly specialized, which makes it harder for recruiters to match founder candidates' skillsets to specific positions.

Recruiters question founders' cultural fit: Entrepreneurs are known to prefer autonomy, independence, and fast decision-making, which can raise questions for recruiters about their ability to comply with policies and procedures in a corporate environment.

Former-entrepreneurs might be perceived as failures: Recruiters may think entrepreneurs founded ventures initially because they unable to find traditional employment, and/or they're re-entering the job market because their ventures failed.

The authors conducted a second study to determine which of these aspects the entrepreneurial recruiters might be viewing more favorably in startup founders.

They asked 325 undergraduate business majors to evaluate founder versus executive resumes for competence, leadership, impact, trustworthiness, commitment to the organization, and success, while measuring the evaluators' entrepreneurial aspirations.

Entrepreneurially oriented participants rated post-entrepreneur resumes more highly on competence, leadership, and impact.

"We were surprised, given the tendency for entrepreneurs re-entering the workforce to be stigmatized by presumed failure, that the success of post-entrepreneur applicants was rated no differently," Shapiro said.

"This finding bolsters our confidence in the ingroup bias-related explanation we provide for our primary study's key finding—namely, that the penalty against post-entrepreneurs as job-candidates is weaker for recruiters who have entrepreneurial aspiration."

The prevalence for recruiters to cite lack of cultural fit as a reason for not hiring entrepreneurs might be the key to unlocking the bias against them.

While senior leaders might say they prioritize hiring for innovation and entrepreneurship, if their organization does not already have a culture that emphasizes these values, recruiters don't have an incentive to hire for them.

Building that affiliation in recruiters—and making them aware of inherent biases against entrepreneurs might be the key to solving the hiring for innovation dilemma.

What to read next

Gartner survey: Half of candidates accepted job offer and backed out before starting
Poor decision-making by hiring managers is causing organizations to lose out on talent
Redefine your culture for virtual workplace

U.S.: Heavy precipitation and, strong winds

Several inches of rain has fallen over multiple days across the Pacific Northwest which has resulted in scattered areas of flooding.


Biden's job approval rating at low 37 percent
Extremely rare whisky comes to Sotheby's New York auction
Exports of Russian fish products rises by 13% over 11 months
First fourth generation nuclear plant in world begins commercial operations in China


World's first AI designed law passed in Brazil

EU: 11 olive oil counterfeiters arrested following Operation OPSON
Mint shop for counterfeit euro coins dismantled in Italy
U.S. announces visa bans on Jewish West Bank settlers
Brazil launches action to crack down on billion dollar soybean smuggling
Badgers slow down train service in Netherlands


Santa Barbara, Ca. to unveil battery energy storage system

San Francisco, Ca. expands e-bike food delivery initiative
Greater Manchester strikes historic deal with Osaka on opening day of Japan mission
Baltimore, Md. Mayor Scott signs bill requiring procurement of 100% zero emissions vehicles for administrative fleet
New York City Mayor Adams launches lithium-ion battery-charging pilot for delivery workers
EU ports rebounding from pandemic disruptions

Trending Now

Moscow residents to name baby panda born in Moscow Zoo

Brazil launches action to crack down on billion dollar soybean smuggling

New study suggests salty immune cells surrounding brain linked to hypertension induced dementia

Bulgaria permits licensed crop imports from Ukraine


Up to €1.2 billion of state aid approved for european cloud, edge computing technologies

Hungary PM Orban says it's myth that member states cannot prosper without EU funding
Poland seeks return of EU permits for Ukrainian haulers but Brussels opposes that
New York Governor Hochul announces start of project to modernize Ogdensburg International Airport
President Lula in Berlin for first talks between Brazil and Germany in eight years
Greece cut coal use by over 80%

Today We Recommend

U.S. announces visa bans on Jewish West Bank settlers


Alaska Airlines to acquire Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion

Roche to acquire Carmot Therapeutics for $2.7 billion

Huge cantaloupes recall after U.S. Salmonella outbreak


Lzzy Hale first female artist to have Kramer signature guitar, only 300 to be made

Focused Sun announces two new solar energy solutions in New Mexico
Novadip Biosciences announced significant clinical milestones for both of its clinical stage programs
Siemens and Intel collaborate to advance sustainability in microelectronics manufacturing
TotalEnergies signs investment agreement for largest wind energy project in Kazakhstan
Eni secures €3 billion sustainability linked revolving credit line


Boeing appoints Henok Teferra Shawl as managing director for Africa

Siemens Healthineers: Vivek Kanade new head for Middle East and Africa operations
Liquid Intelligent Technologies appoints Lerato Dipuo Phueginia Pule as CFO
PwC selects Mohamed Kande as next global chair
Billerud appoints Ivar Vatne as CEO
New Pacific Metals appoints two to board


Australia's economic growth slowed to 0.2 percent Q3

Half of new jobs in South Korea created for elderly in 2022
Moody's downgrades China's credit outlook
West Virginia yearly revenue collections $286.2 million ahead of estimate
Austrian economy slips into recession
Ireland in recession as personal consumer spending increased


J. M. Smucker Q2 income grew 2 percent

AutoZone Q1 income increased to $593.5 million
Dell Technologies revenue $22.3 billion
American Outdoor Brands Q2 sales $57.9 million
Marvell Technology Q3 revenue $1.419 billion
BMO Financial Q4 income $1,617 million


Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?


Cote d'Ivoire expects decline in cocoa production

Weak Norwegian krone triggers strong value growth for November seafood exports
Russia bans fruits, vegetable imports from Moldova
Bulgaria permits licensed crop imports from Ukraine
France puts country on high alert for bird flu
Kentucky names new Deputy State Veterinarian


Happy workforce is productive workforce, says study

LinkedIn can trigger feelings of imposter syndrome
Study suggests corporate culture thwarts efforts to hire innovative candidates
Workplace wellness policies could soften effects of workaholism
Customers willing to wait longer for delivery when they shop in store showroom
Internal crowdfunding fosters innovation and engages employees


Swiss bank Banque Pictet admits to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to hide assets and income in offshore accounts

FINRA fines BofA Securities $24 million for treasuries spoofing and related supervisory failures
BNP Paribas subsidiary fined maximum amount over Swiss franc loans
Commission fines Rabobank €26.6 million over Euro-denominated bonds trading cartel
Shell Energy fined £1.4m by Ofcom for consumer protection breaches
Italy's antitrust agency fines energy companies for aggressive billing



Sai Kung Hoi Arts Festival returns to Hong Kong until Janury 14

Go on a sleigh ride in Estonia Varbola stronghold
Bora Bora, first born paradise in French Polynesia
Mushrooms of all kinds will be featured at Autumn Bio Festival in Portugal
Festive winter fun in and around Hannover
Premier Australian motoring event returns this weekend


Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban come with new look

Chinese HiPhi revealed electric sedan, too bad it can't be trusted
New 2025 Ram 1500, Hurricane 3L and 420 horsepower
Gulfstream G700 business jet to fly 14,353 kilometers
Beneteau First, slender mainsail and generously sized foresails
Porsche launches speedboat with 400 kW


Hollywood Regency, the style that's always in

Filippo Loreti, premium Italian timepieces for adventurous gentlemen
Creative furniture that redefines the meaning of sofa
Perfect ovens for perfect pizza at home
Designer radiators, focal point that heats your room
What to do and what not to do when designing your living room


Rode NT1 5th Generation, the ultimate studio microphone

Motorola g family smartphones bring something for everyone
Focal Shape 65 monitor, loudspeakers for home or professional studio
NAD C 268 stereo power amplifier, multipurpose workhorse
DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/Reference, €90,000 for ultimate sound
Motorola razr, foldable phone that allows you to live your real life


New study suggests salty immune cells surrounding brain linked to hypertension induced dementia

Researchers crack cellular code on protein folding offering hope for many new therapeutic avenues
Huge cantaloupes recall after U.S. Salmonella outbreak
Pathogens use force to breach immune defenses
Governor Moore announces expanded access to contraceptive care across Maryland
California Governor Newsom announces new legislation to prevent illicit use and trafficking of xylazine


Beijing launches its first satellite from South China Sea

Australia choose Roo-ver for first moon rover's name
France to donate € 500 million to Brazil's Amazon Fund
New deep space radar will transform UK security
Massive planet too big for its sun pushes astronomers to rethink exoplanet formation
Vera Rubin telescope will generate mind boggling amount of data