• Signal strength, media attention and new firm resource mobilization: Evidence from new private equity firms

      Vanacker, Tom; Forbes, Daniel; Knockaert, Mirjam; Manigart, Sophie (Academy of Management Journal, 2020)
      Past research has shown that new firms can facilitate resource mobilization by signaling their unobservable quality to prospective resource providers. However, we know less about situations in which firms convey multiple signals of different strengths—i.e., signals that are more or less correlated with unobservable firm quality. Building on a sociocognitive perspective, we propose that prospective resource providers respond differently to signals of different strengths and that the effectiveness of signals, especially weak signals, will be contingent on the media attention new firms receive. Empirically, we conduct a longitudinal analysis examining the ability of new private equity (PE) firms to raise a follow-on fund. Consistent with our theory, we find that unrealized performance, a relatively weak signal, positively influences fundraising. But we fail to find statistical evidence that its effect is weaker than that of realized performance, a relatively strong signal. Further, media attention strengthens the relationship between unrealized performance and fundraising, but media attention exerts less impact on the relationship between realized performance and fundraising. Taken together, our findings deepen our understanding of how new firms can mobilize resources with signals of different strengths and of how the media—as a key information intermediary—differently impacts their effectiveness.