Research Projects


Stanford Project on Emerging Companies

The Stanford Project on Emerging Companies (SPEC), launched in 1994, focuses on the links between an organization's employment practices and other aspects of the business. During data collection that spanned 1994 to 1997, SPEC researchers conducted a longitudinal study of nearly 200 young Silicon Valley companies and their founders.

Led by James Baron, now William S. Beinecke Professor of Management at Yale School of Management, and Michael Hannan, StratCom Professor of Management at the Business School, SPEC studied over 180 Silicon Valley high-tech firms through interviews, surveys, and archival research. Earlier research established different employment patterns based on how the organization's human resource practices are aligned with strategy, organizational culture, and technology. Researchers were then able to evaluate how these different employment practices impact organizational performance, such as the rate of IPO and the ability to raise capital. More recent research has included strategy formulation and implementation, financial contracting, and gender composition.

The SPEC dataset has proven to be an invaluable intellectual asset used by scholars at Stanford and other leading research institutions to generate an even wider range of research.

Some of the research papers to come out of SPEC include:

  • “In the Company of Women: Gender Inequality and the Logic of Bureaucracy in Start-up Firms.” James N. Baron, Michael T. Hannan, Greta Hsu, and Özgecan Koçak. Work and Occupations 34 (2007) 35-66.
  • Leaving a Legacy: Position Imprints and Successor Turnover in Young Firms.”  M. Diane Burton and, Christine M. Beckman. American Sociological Review 28 (2007) 239-66
  • “Early Teams: The Impact of Team Demography on VC Financing and Going Public,” Christine M. Beckman, M. Diane Burton, Charles O’Reilly, Journal of Business Venturing, 2007.
  • “Organizational Identities and the Hazard of Change. Michael T. Hannan, James N. Baron, Greta Hsu, and Özgecan Koçak. Industrial and Corporate Change 15 (2006) 755-84.
  • “The economic sociology of organizational entrepreneurship: Lessons from the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies.” James N. Baron and Michael T. Hannan. Pp.168-203 in The Economic Sociology of Capitalism, edited by Victor Nee and Richard Swedberg. New York: Russell Sage, 2005.
  • “Organizational Blueprints for Success in High-Tech Start-Ups: Lessons from the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies,” James N. Baron and Michael T. Hannan, California Management Review, Spring 2002. (recipient of the 2002 Accenture Award)
  • Gender and Organization-Building Process in Young High-Tech Firms” (Chapter 10), James N. Baron, Michael T. Hannan, Greta Hsu, and Ozgecan Kocak, The New Economic Sociology: Developments in an Emerging Field,  Mauro Guillen ed., 2002
  • Labor Pains: Change in Organizational Models and Employee Turnover in Young, High-Tech Firms,” James N. Baron, Michael T. Hannan, and M. Diane Burton, American Journal of Sociology, January 2001.
  • Engineering Bureaucracy: The Genesis of Formal Policies, Positions, and Structures in High-Technology Firms,” James N. Baron, M. Diane Burton, and Michael T. Hannan, The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, 1999.
  • Building the Iron Cage: Determinants of Managerial Intensity in the Early Years of Organizations,” James N. Baron, Michael T. Hannan, and M. Diane Burton, American Sociological Review, August 1999.
  • The Road Taken: Origins and Evolution of Employment Systems in Emerging Companies,” James N. Baron, M. Diane Burton, and Michael T. Hannan, Industrial and Corporate Change, 1996.
  • “Inertia and Change in the Early Years: Employment Relations in Young, High Technology Firms,” James N. Baron, M. Diane Burton, and Michael T. Hannan, Industrial and Corporate Change, 1996.

Related links

When (Organizational) Change Hurts: Startups Need to “Think Employees” from the Get-Go

Founders' Values Help Shape Gender Mix in High-Tech