Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

What Do Small Businesses Do?

Contents:

Author Info

  • Erik Hurst
  • Benjamin Wild Pugsley

Abstract

In this paper, we show that most small business owners are very different from the entrepreneurs that economic models and policy makers often have in mind. Using new data that samples early stage entrepreneurs just prior to business start up, we show that few small businesses intend to bring a new idea to market. Instead, most intend to provide an existing service to an existing market. Further, we find that most small businesses have little desire to grow big or to innovate in any observable way. We show that such behavior is consistent with the industry characteristics of the majority of small businesses, which are concentrated among skilled craftsmen, lawyers, real estate agents, doctors, small shopkeepers, and restaurateurs. Lastly, we show non pecuniary benefits (being one’s own boss, having flexibility of hours, etc.) play a first-order role in the business formation decision. We then discuss how our findings suggest that the importance of entrepreneurial talent, entrepreneurial luck, and financial frictions in explaining the firm size distribution may be overstated. We conclude by discussing the potential policy implications of our findings.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17041.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17041.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Erik Hurst & Benjamin Wild Pugsley, 2011. "What do Small Businesses Do?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 43(2 (Fall)), pages 73-142.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17041

Note: CF EFG IO LS PE PR
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Xavier Gabaix, 2009. "Power Laws in Economics and Finance," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 255-294, 05.
  2. Audretsch, David B. & Keilbach, Max C. & Lehmann, Erik E., 2006. "Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195183511.
  3. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-35, June.
  4. Galina Vereshchagina & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2009. "Risk Taking by Entrepreneurs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1808-30, December.
  5. Zoltan Acs & David Audretsch, 1990. "Innovation and Small Firms," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011131, December.
  6. Silvia Ardagna & Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Explaining International Differences in Entrepreneurship: The Role of Individual Characteristics and Regulatory Constraints," NBER Working Papers 14012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Ross Levine & Yona Rubinstein, 2013. "Smart and Illicit: Who Becomes an Entrepreneur and Does it Pay?," NBER Working Papers 19276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Teresa C. Fort & John Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2013. "How Firms Respond to Business Cycles: The Role of Firm Age and Firm Size," NBER Working Papers 19134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Thorsten Drautzburg, 2013. "Entrepreneurial tail risk: implications for employment dynamics," Working Papers 13-45, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Philippe Bracke & Christian Hilber & Olmo Silva, 2012. "Homeownerhip and Entrepreneurship," SERC Discussion Papers 0103, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  5. Henrekson, Magnus & Sanandaji, Tino, 2013. "Small Business Activity Does not Measure Entrepreneurship," Working Paper Series 959, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 26 Jan 2014.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2013. "Entrepreneurship And Urban Growth:An Empirical Assessment With Historical Mines," Working Papers 13-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. Ola Bengtsson & John R. M. Hand, 2013. "Employee Compensation in Entrepreneurial Companies," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 312-340, 06.
  8. Poschke, Markus, 2013. "The Decision to Become an Entrepreneur and the Firm Size Distribution: A Unifying Framework for Policy Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 7757, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Poschke, Markus, 2013. "Who becomes an entrepreneur? Labor market prospects and occupational choice," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 693-710.
  10. Colleen Kamen & Christopher Behrer, 2012. "Navigating uncertainty and growing jobs: considering small employer firm resilience during challenging economic times," Community Development Investment Center Working Paper 2012-06, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  11. Manuel Adelino & Song Ma & David T. Robinson, 2014. "Firm Age, Investment Opportunities, and Job Creation," NBER Working Papers 19845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hessels, Jolanda & Brixy, Udo & Naudé, Wim & Gries, Thomas, 2014. "Skill Variety, Innovation and New Business Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 7889, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Henrekson, Magnus, 2014. "Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Human Flourishing," Working Paper Series 999, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 15 Jan 2014.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17041. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.