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Learning from Failure

  • Philip R.P. Coelho
  • James E. McClure

Failures may lead to ultimate success in both nature and business. Just as dynamic ecosystems depend on death to replace senescent organisms with vigorous growth, the termination of uneconomic activities is essential to wealth creation. This paper explores the benefits of failures, and uses aspects of the analogy between death and business failure to analyze how failures in business economize upon resources and lead to better firms and greater efficiencies. A distinguishing feature of our work is the analytic use of competitive markets to provide insights into the processes of success and failure. Recognizable patterns of business failures are discussed in an effort to provide entrepreneurs and mangers with a basis for understanding and acting upon changing circumstances.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal American Journal of Business.

Volume (Year): 20 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 12-20

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ajbpps:v:20:y:2005:i:1:p:12-20
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  1. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
  2. Jovanovic, Boyan & MacDonald, Glenn M, 1994. "The Life Cycle of a Competitive Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 322-47, April.
  3. repec:att:wimass:9211 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, 1995. "On the turnover of business firms and business managers," Working Papers 545, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Gort, Michael & Klepper, Steven, 1982. "Time Paths in the Diffusion of Product Innovations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 630-53, September.
  6. John R. Baldwin & Paul K. Gorecki, 1991. "Firm Entry and Exit in the Canadian Manufacturing Sector, 1970-1982," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(2), pages 300-323, May.
  7. Uma V. Sridharan & Lori Dickes & W. Royce Caines, 2002. "The Social Impact of Business Failure: Enron," American Journal of Business, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 17(2), pages 11-22.
  8. Audretsch, David B, 1991. "New-Firm Survival and the Technological Regime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(3), pages 441-50, August.
  9. John R. Baldwin & Paul K. Gorecki, 1990. "Firm Entry and Exit in the Canadian Manufacturing Sector," Working Papers 767, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  10. Mata, Jose & Portugal, Pedro, 1994. "Life Duration of New Firms," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 227-45, September.
  11. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185.
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