Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ramona K. Zachary

Committee Members

Romi Kher

Thomas S. Lyons

Subject Categories

Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations


Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, Startup Accelerators, Social entrepreneurship, Gender Entrepreneurship, Signaling Theory, Gender Role Congruity Theory


The entrepreneurial financing landscape has drastically evolved over the past two decades with many of the new entrants (e.g., crowdfunders, accelerators, incubators, etc) rapidly rising to prominence (Block et al., 2016). Evolving from the incubator model, startup accelerators have similarly gained traction over the past decade (Pauwels, Clarysse, Wright, & Van Hove, 2016). While the number of published articles focusing on accelerators has been growing, extant research has yet to clearly delineate the accelerator phenomena conceptually and more importantly, empirically examine its selection mechanism. This dissertation addresses this gap and is composed of two parts. In the first part, I will introduce a conceptual model that explains where accelerators fit in the venture creation pipeline and how different types of accelerators create unique value in the respective entrepreneurial ecosystem. Second, given the significant role played by social startups in contributing to the broader society, I will focus on one important but under-researched type of accelerator – the Social Impact Accelerator (SIA) - to empirically examine its selection criteria and highlight how the founder’s gender influences the economic and social signals sent by the social startup.