Journal of Systems Science & Complexity.
Government-sponsored venture capital (GVC) has been used to support financially constrained start-ups as an important policy tool in China. Typically, to motivate the social capital to invest in start-ups, GVC provides subsidies for them to bridge the funding gap in the early-stage venture capital market. However, the effect and mechanism of GVC affecting social capital investment have not been clearly studied. In this paper, we not only develop a game model to analyze this issue in theory, but conduct an empirical study by analyzing the 14741 records matched by propensity score matching (PSM) of Chinese venture capital market data from 2011 to 2021. Our findings are as the follows. Firstly, the subsidies offered by GVC will simultaneously increase the returns and risks of investments in start-ups of social capital with more volatile incentive effect of GVC. The incentive effect of GVC is only effective when the returns resulting from the subsidies outweigh the risks they introduce. In the context of the Chinese venture capital market, the incentive effect of GVC is effective. Secondly, the incentive effect of GVC is more pronounced in high-tech industries, which can be attributed to the signaling effect facilitated by GVC. In this context, the subsidy mainly helps social capital to bear the costs associated with screening potential investments. Thirdly, the incentive effect of GVC is more significant in underdeveloped venture capital markets, which can be explained by the “virtuous cycle” effect, in which GVC plays a pioneering role in establishing a more robust early-stage market trading system. By examining these three points, this study contributes to a better understanding of how GVC can effectively guide social capital investment, especially in the Chinese landscape.