Government roles in VC development

Callagher, L. J., Smith, P., & Ruscoe, S. (2015). Government roles in venture capital development: A review of current literature. Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy.


Purpose: Interest in venture capital markets continues to be of relevance to politicians and policymakers, recognizing the importance of government participation in venture capital market development. Yet advice regarding developing venture capital markets appears increasingly disparate.

Design/methodology/approach: We engage the assumptions that underpin three dominant policy approaches to the development of venture capital markets with regard to the role of governments in that process. We categorize existing empirical studies against three approaches and give examples of the different government policies associated with the various approaches.

Findings: Direct and indirect approaches recognize the importance of active stock markets but largely ignore the dynamic processes of markets, asserting that the provision of capital, institutional changes and financial incentives ex ante will cause a positive market reaction, regardless of the market’s context. The recent timed approached is purported as being more comprehensive in its awareness of the need to adapt to countries’ contexts and the need for varying policies at the different stages of market emergence.

Research limitations/implications: Limited empirical research tests the voracity and limitations of the timed approach. The challenge in doing so is that evolutionary theories typically explain an event after it has occurred, thus its predictive power is often limited. Future research might investigate the efficacy of policy levers based on the timed approach.

Practical implications: We highlight the need for the development of venture capital markets, rather than a venture capital industry.

Originality/value: We extend the existing venture capital market development categories and evaluate each approach in terms of the efficacy of government’s roles in venture capital market development in light of the existing evidence of economic development and entrepreneurial activity.


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