Angel Investing in Finland: An Analysis Based on Agency Theory and the Incomplete Contracting Theory

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Title: Angel Investing in Finland: An Analysis Based on Agency Theory and the Incomplete Contracting Theory
Author: Lahti, Tom
Contributor: Hanken School of Economics, Department of Management and Organisation, Entrepreneurship and Management
Thesis level: Doctoral thesis
Belongs to series: Economics and Society - 191
ISSN: 0424-7256
ISBN: 978-952-232-016-2
Abstract: Wealthy individuals - business angels who invest a share of their net worth in entrepreneurial ventures - form an essential part of an informal venture capital market that can secure funding for entrepreneurial ventures. In Finland, business angels represent an untapped pool of capital that can contribute to fostering entrepreneurial development. In addition, business angels can bridge knowledge gaps in new business ventures by means of making their human capital available.
This study has two objectives. The first is to gain an understanding of the characteristics and investment behaviour of Finnish business angels. The strongest focus here is on the due diligence procedures and their involvement post investment. The second objective is to assess whether agency theory and the incomplete contacting theory are useful theoretical lenses in the arena of business angels. To achieve the second objective, this study investigates i) how risk is mitigated in the investment process, ii) how uncertainty influences the comprehensiveness of due diligence as well as iii) how control is allocated post investment.
Research hypotheses are derived from assumptions underlying agency theory and the incomplete contacting theory. The data for this study comprise interviews with 53 business angels. In terms of sample size this is the largest on Finnish business angels. The research hypotheses in this study are tested using regression analysis.
This study suggests that the Finnish informal venture capital market appears to be comprised of a limited number of business angels whose style of investing much resembles their formal counterparts’. Much focus is placed on managing risks prior to making the investment by strong selectiveness and by a relatively comprehensive due diligence. The involvement is rarely on a day-to-day basis and many business angels seem to see board membership as a more suitable alternative than involvement in the operations of an entrepreneurial venture.
The uncertainty involved does not seem to drive an increase in due diligence. On the contrary, it would appear that due diligence is more rigorous in safer later stage investments and when the business angels have considerable previous experience as investors. Finnish business angels’ involvement post investment is best explained by their degree of ownership in the entrepreneurial venture. It seems that when investors feel they are sufficiently rewarded, in terms of an adequate equity stake, they are willing to involve themselves actively in their investments.
The lack of support for a relationship between increased uncertainty and the comprehensiveness of due diligence may partly be explained by an increasing trend towards portfolio diversification. This is triggered by a taxation system that favours investments through investment companies rather than direct investments. Many business angels appear to have substituted a specialization strategy that builds on reducing uncertainty for a diversification strategy that builds on reducing firm specific (idiosyncratic) risk by holding shares in ventures whose returns are not expected to exhibit a strong positive correlation.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10227/297
URN:ISBN:978-952-232-016-2
Date: 2009-01-07
Copyright information: This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.
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