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Portuguese researcher wins award for best PhD thesis

For the first time ever, a Portuguese researcher has won the award for the best PhD thesis in the world in the area of entrepreneurship. The winner is Sérgio Costa, researcher at the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC).

Portuguese researcher wins award for best PhD thesis

Sérgio Costa

For the first time in a while, this first page of PC Guia is fully dedicated to the excellence of work conducted by Portuguese researchers. Today we tell you the story of a Portuguese researcher, Sérgio Costa, who wrote the best dissertation in the world. Invited assistant professor at the Faculty of Science of the University of Porto (FCUP) and guest researcher at the University of Gent (Belgium), Sérgio Costa received the award in August, in Vancouver (Canada), at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. His dissertation, titled Business Model Change in Early-Stage University Spin-offs, developed at the University of Strathclyde (United Kingdom), received the Heizer Best Dissertation Award of the Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Division, the most important award in the world in the area of entrepreneurship.


There were three finalists, but the Portuguese researcher was the winner. Concluded in November 2014, this work was supervised by Jonathan Levie (University of Strathclyde, UK) and Marina Biniari (Aalto University, Finland). «In his dissertation, Sérgio Costa addresses the evolution of business models in university spin-offs using an inductive and longitudinal methodology. For that, he collected data in real time at the early stages of these companies’ development, something that is unheard of in the management area», INESC TEC explains. «My thesis suggests that companies with a high level of management and market knowledge and experienced in entrepreneurship, make, in general, less changes to their business models and present a higher performance», Sérgio Costa explains.

For the first time in this area, the researcher addresses the relation between how often the business models change and certain variables, such as the degree of involvement of entrepreneurs, and knowledge on market, management and new business launching. Some of the propositions addressed by the researcher will be put into practice at INESC TEC, as the institution is now building a database with the entire population of university spin-offs in Portugal.

PC Guia, September 2015


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