The Transformational Role of IT in Entrepreneurship: Crowdfunding and the Democratization of Access to Capital and Investment Opportunity

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My dissertation examines the strategic impacts of IT-enabled platforms on entrepreneurial and innovation activities. Specifically, I explore the behaviors of both investors and entrepreneurs in online crowdfunding markets that have the potential to democratize access to capital and investment opportunities. In my first essay, I examine the role of experts in a crowdfunding market. While conventional wisdom considers a crowdfunding market as a mechanism to democratize decision making and reduce reliance on experts, I find that experts still play a pivotal role in these markets. In particular, I find that the early investments by experts serve as credible signals of quality for the crowd, and have a significant impact on the crowd's investment decisions. In my second essay, I analyze whether crowdfunding democratizes access to capital for entrepreneurs. I find that difficult access to credit from traditional sources induces entrepreneurs to rely more on crowdfunding as a viable alternative, while this effect varies across project types and across areas. In each essay, I analyze micro-level data from online crowdfunding markets with a variety of econometric methods. The results have important theoretical and practical implications for questions ranging from the design of online crowdfunding markets to competition between online and offline channels for funding and regional dynamics of crowdfunding.