This study examined the impact of sustaining, changing or disregarding the founder's vision on the outcomes of Venture Funded High Tech Start-up Companies (VFSCs). The motivation for the study was to provide knowledge that would enable Venture Capital (VC) investors to enhance their investment portfolio success rates. A model (VFSC Success - Failure continuum) was developed and introduced to provide a framework for the study. This model broke the universe of VFSC companies into two groups; those that have had their fates decided, namely Super-successes, Successes and Failures and those whose fate remained to be decided, namely Projected Successes and Living Dead. A theory was proposed that suggested sustaining the founder's vision through-out the pre-IPO period enhanced the probability of VFSC success, and that changing or disregarding the founder's vision led to Living Dead and/or Failure firm outcomes. The study was segmented into three phases: (a) a Pilot Study established survey instrument content validity and test-retest reliability; (b) an electronic survey instrument captured the data required to examine the study's theory and research questions; and (c) a Non-response Bias Test established that no statistically significant difference existed between the survey and non-respondent sample data sets. The study investigated five primary research questions related to sustaining the founder's vision, vision change and disregarding the (founder's) vision and their influence on firm outcomes. Twenty-one secondary research questions examined contextual variables and current industry success/failure rates. The significant outcomes from this study are (a) vision change classifications, vision change, vision disregard and sustaining the (founder's) vision, had limited, but not insignificant impact on firm outcomes, (b) contextual variables, vision valuation, vision clarity and vision conformity (with the study's definition), influenced firm outcomes, (c) articulation of (founder's) visions in writing was linked to very clear visions, vision conformity, and vision valuation by VFSC directors; and (d) the influence of succession events on firm outcomes and vision change classifications was found to be statistically insignificant. The study concluded by identifying its limitations and suggesting a number of areas for future research and investigation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Management -- United States; Venture capital -- United States; Dissertations (EdD) -- Organization change

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Canady, Robert M.