Abstract

Investment is crucial to a new venture’s survival and success (Bishop & Nixon, 2006). Research has focused on the typical source of new venture capital - the investor - continues to proliferate (Shepherd, 1999; Baum & Silverman, 2003). Scholars have considered the criteria by which formal investors (venture capitalists) make investment decisions (MacMillan et al., 1985; Hall & Hofer, 1993; Muzyka et al., 1996), however far fewer have focused on the criteria by which informal investors (angel investors) evaluate the potential of a new venture as an investment (Mason & Harrison, 2002). This is noteworthy given that the context (e.g. private investment firm v. individual wealth), potential goals, and post-investment intervention mechanisms of these investors differs significantly. Drawing on social identity theory, we suggest that when engaged in evaluating opportunity ‘deals,’ the decision policies of formal and informal investors will differ. These distinctions are driven, in part, by the disparate behavioral expectations associated with the identity standard socially ascribed to ‘venture capitalist’ or ‘angel investor’ (Burke, 1991; Turner, 1984; Tajfel & Turner, 1985).

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