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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Finance

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Our top-ranked finance faculty are authors of leading textbooks.

Research and Publications

Journal Articles

Tolerance for Failure and Corporate Innovation

2014, Review of Financial Studies

Xuan Tian, Tracy Wang


We examine whether tolerance for failure spurs corporate innovation based on a sample of venture capital (VC) backed IPO firms. We develop a novel measure of VC investors’ failure tolerance by examining their willingness to continue investing in underperforming ventures. We find that IPO firms backed by more failure-tolerant VC investors are significantly more innovative, and VC failure tolerance is particularly important for ventures subject to high failure risk. We show that these results are not driven by endogenous matching between failure-tolerant VCs and startups with high ex-ante innovation potentials. We also examine the determinants of the cross-sectional heterogeneity in VC failure tolerance. We find that both capital constraints and career concerns can negatively distort VC failure tolerance. Less experienced VCs are more exposed to these distortions, making them less failure tolerant than more established VCs.


Tian, Xuan and Tracy Wang (2014), "Tolerance for Failure and Corporate Innovation." Review of Financial Studies Vol. 27 (1), 211-255. 


tolerance for failure, innovation, patents, venture capital, IPO