Handbook of Research on Business Angels
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Handbook of Research on Business Angels

Edited by Hans Landström and Colin Mason

This book synthesizes 30 years of research on business angels by charting the significant role they play in the financing of entrepreneurial businesses in both developed and emerging economies. The expert group of contributors examine business angels themselves, the evolution of the market and the role of public policy in influencing angel investment. Finally, the editors provide an agenda for future research on business angels.
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Chapter 2: Researching business angels: definitional and data challenges

Colin Mason


The chapter reviews the definition of business angels, stressing that love money and angel investing are conceptually different. It emphasises the key features of business angels: they are investing their own money, investing in private unquoted companies, investing directly and are motivated by commercial returns. However, the emergence of managed angel groups has challenged the continued validity of some aspects of this definition. The author then reviews the various ways in which researchers have sought to identify business angels, either for sampling purposes or to estimate the size of the market. Each of the sources reviewed has significant deficiencies. The author is therefore of the same view as Wetzel that the population of business angels ‘is unknown and probably unknowable’. However, he does see the emergence of angel groups as an important development, comprising a significant investment category in their own right and which is visible, in contrast to solo angels who operate informally and so remain largely invisible. He therefore advocates that efforts should be made to collect investment information from such groups on a regular basis.

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