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Legal Form, Growth and Exit of West German Firms—Empirical Results for Manufacturing, Construction, Trade and Service Industries


  • Dietmar Harhoff
  • Konrad Stahl
  • Michaerl Woywode


Using a sample of approximately 11000 West German firms from all major sectors of the economy, we test predictions on the relationship between legal form, firm survival and employment growth. In our tests, we distinguish between voluntary liquidation without losses to creditors and bankruptcy, that is forced liquidation. We demonstrate that in all sectors firms under limited liability have higher growth and higher insolvency rates than comparable firms under full liability. Firms whose owners are approaching retirement age are characterised by relatively high hazards of voluntary liquidation, while the propensity to declare insolvency is not affected by the owner’s age.

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  • Dietmar Harhoff & Konrad Stahl & Michaerl Woywode, 1998. "Legal Form, Growth and Exit of West German Firms—Empirical Results for Manufacturing, Construction, Trade and Service Industries," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 453-488, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:46:y:1998:i:4:p:453-488
    DOI: 10.1111/1467-6451.00083

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    1. Holtz-Eakin Douglas & Rosen Harvey S, 2005. "Cash Constraints and Business Start-Ups: Deutschmarks Versus Dollars," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-28, February.
    2. Alex Coad & Masatoshi Kato, 2021. "Growth paths and routes to exit: 'shadow of death' effects for new firms in Japan," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 57(3), pages 1145-1173, October.
    3. Jaka Cepec & Peter Grajzl, 2021. "Management turnover, ownership change, and post-bankruptcy failure of small businesses," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 57(1), pages 555-581, June.
    4. Domínguez Jurado, José Miguel & Triguero-Ruiz, Francisco & Avila-Cano, Antonio, 2021. "Firm growth in the 21st century: Does the Andalusian economy comply with Gibrat’s Law?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 577(C).
    5. Bozhidar Hadzhiev & Valentina Nikolova-Alexieva & Iva T. Bachvarova, 2018. "Creating the Conditions for Broadband Business Entrepreneurship to Ensure Lasting Success for the Bulgarian Society," Economic Studies journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 5, pages 92-105.
    6. Abdo Ahmad, Issam & Fakih, Ali, 2021. "Does the Legal Form Matter for Firm Performance in the MENA Region?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 801, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    7. José Mata & Pedro Portugal, 2000. "Closure and divestiture by foreign entrants: the impact of entry and post‐entry strategies," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(5), pages 549-562, May.
    8. Stuart Fraser & David Storey & Julian Frankish & Richard Roberts, 2002. "The Relationship between Training and Small Business Performance: An Analysis of the Barclays Bank Small Firms Training Loans Scheme," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 20(2), pages 211-233, April.
    9. Byeongyong Paul Choi, 2010. "The U.S. Property and Liability Insurance Industry: Firm Growth, Size, and Age," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 13(2), pages 207-224, September.
    10. Ichiro Iwasaki & Evzen Kocenda & Yoshisada Shida, 2020. "Distressed Acquisitions Evidence from European Emerging Markets," KIER Working Papers 1031, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    11. Kotorri Mrika & Krasniqi Besnik A., 2018. "Managerial Characteristics and Export Performance – Empirical Evidence from Kosovo," South East European Journal of Economics and Business, Sciendo, vol. 13(2), pages 32-48, December.
    12. Alex Coad & Masatoshi Kato, 2018. "Growth paths and routes to exit: ‘Shadow of Death’ effects for new firms in Japan," Discussion Paper Series 185, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University.
    13. Mehmet Civelek & Ibrahim Dursun & Ashiqur Rahman, "undated". "How Perceptions of Bank Financing Constraints Differ Among Characteristics of SMEs: Evidence from Turkey," Review of Socio - Economic Perspectives 201818, Reviewsep.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms


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