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Practice makes perfect: Entrepreneurial-experience curves and venture performance

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  • Toft-Kehler, Rasmus
  • Wennberg, Karl
  • Kim, Phillip H.

Abstract

This study tackles the puzzle of why increasing entrepreneurial experience does not always lead to improved financial performance of new ventures. We propose an alternate framework demonstrating how experience translates into expertise by arguing that the positive experience–performance relationship only appears to expert entrepreneurs, while novice entrepreneurs may actually perform increasingly worse because of their inability to generalize their experiential knowledge accurately into new ventures. These negative performance implications can be alleviated if the level of contextual similarity between prior and current ventures is high. Using matched employee–employer data of an entire population of Swedish founder-managers between 1990 and 2007, we find a non-linear relationship between entrepreneurial experience and financial performance consistent with our framework. Moreover, the level of industry, geographic, and temporal similarities between prior and current ventures positively moderates this relationship. Our work provides both theoretical and practical implications for entrepreneurial experience—people can learn entrepreneurship and pursue it with greater success as long as they have multiple opportunities to gain experience, overcome barriers to learning, and build an entrepreneurial-experience curve.

Suggested Citation

  • Toft-Kehler, Rasmus & Wennberg, Karl & Kim, Phillip H., 2014. "Practice makes perfect: Entrepreneurial-experience curves and venture performance," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 453-470.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:29:y:2014:i:4:p:453-470
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2013.07.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Eric Shaunn Mattingly & Trayan N. Kushev & Manju K. Ahuja & Dalong Ma, 2016. "Switch or persevere? The effects of experience and metacognition on persistence decisions," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 1233-1263, December.
    2. Bird, Miriam & Wennberg, Karl, 2016. "Why family matters: The impact of family resources on immigrant entrepreneurs' exit from entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 687-704.
    3. Jolanda Hessels & U. Brixy & Wim Naudé & Thomas Gries, 2014. "Skill Variety, Innovation and New Business Formation," Scales Research Reports H201013, EIM Business and Policy Research.
    4. Elert, Niklas & Andersson, Fredrik W. & Wennberg, Karl, 2015. "The impact of entrepreneurship education in high school on long-term entrepreneurial performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 209-223.
    5. Fu, Kun & Larsson, Anne-Sophie & Wennberg, Karl, 2017. "Habitual Entrepreneurs in the Making: How Labour Market Rigidity and Employment Affects Entrepreneurial Re-entry," Ratio Working Papers 297, The Ratio Institute.
    6. Sharon Yong Yee Ong & Nurul Fadly Habidin & Mad Ithnin Salleh & Nursyazwani Mohd Fuzi, 2016. "Relationship of Entrepreneurship Practice and Business Performance of Women Entrepreneur in Malaysia," International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 6(11), pages 95-109, November.
    7. Gottschalk, Sandra & Greene, Francis J. & Höwer, Daniel & Müller, Bettina, 2014. "If you don't succeed, should you try again? The role of entrepreneurial experience in venture survival," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-009, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    8. Wennberg, Karl & Delmar, Frédéric & McKelvie, Alexander, 2016. "Variable risk preferences in new firm growth and survival," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 408-427.
    9. Kim, Phillip H. & Longest, Kyle C., 2014. "You can't leave your work behind: Employment experience and founding collaborations," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 785-806.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Serial entrepreneurship; Learning curves; Experience; Similarity; Performance;

    JEL classification:

    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups

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