Alleviating concerns of misappropriation in corporate venture capital: Creating credible commitments and calculative trust

Joshua B. Sears, Michael S. McLeod, Robert E. Evert, G. Tyge Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ventures are often hesitant to accept corporate venture capital due to concerns of intellectual property misappropriation. This is likely to be especially true with startup stage ventures operating in weak intellectual property rights regimes. Drawing on transaction costs economics and game theory, we examine how corporate investors might alleviate concerns of misappropriation by establishing credible commitments to their corporate venture capital program, which discourages opportunistic behavior. We submit that corporate investors can demonstrate credible commitments through prior investment quantity and prior investment continuity, therefore increasing the chances of forming a corporate venture capital–venture investment relationship. Our findings—using data from 11,136 ventures, 300 corporate venture capital investors, and 1782 investments across 18 years—demonstrate that ventures are more likely to pair with corporate venture capital investors that have made a credible commitment to their corporate venture capital program. Also, we find evidence that both quantity and continuity possess an enhanced effect on alleviating fears of misappropriation when a startup venture operates in the same industry as a potential corporate venture capital partner; this is because the corporate venture capital investor possesses both the absorptive capacity to understand the venture’s intellectual property and complementary capabilities to beat them to market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-340
Number of pages23
JournalStrategic Organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2022


  • calculative trust
  • corporate venture capital
  • credible commitments
  • transaction costs economics


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