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Pre-Entry Knowledge, Learning, and the Survival of New Firms

Author

Listed:
  • John C. Dencker

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois 61820)

  • Marc Gruber

    () (College of Management of Technology, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Odyssea 2.02, Station 5, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland)

  • Sonali K. Shah

    () (Foster School of Business, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195)

Abstract

New firms are endowed with knowledge and experience at birth through the human capital of their founder(s). Existing empirical research suggests that this pre-entry knowledge and experience will influence the firm's chances of survival; however, the mechanisms underlying this relationship have yet to be investigated. We seek to better understand and unpack this relationship. Specifically, we study the extent to which a founder's pre-entry knowledge of the business activity and pre-entry management experience influence the effectiveness of two subsequent learning activities---namely, early-stage business planning and product-line change. Our findings suggest that pre-entry knowledge and management experience increase firm survival through moderating the effects of these subsequent learning activities. We also find that learning activities are not always beneficial; in our sample, early-stage business planning is associated with decreased firm survival, and product line change is associated with increased firm survival. We examine these patterns using survey data collected from 436 individuals in the Munich region who founded their own firms as an alternative to continued unemployment. Our results have theoretical implications for the entrepreneurship, evolutionary economics, and organizational learning literatures.

Suggested Citation

  • John C. Dencker & Marc Gruber & Sonali K. Shah, 2009. "Pre-Entry Knowledge, Learning, and the Survival of New Firms," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(3), pages 516-537, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:20:y:2009:i:3:p:516-537
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1080.0387
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1080.0387
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthew R. Marvel & G. T. Lumpkin, 2017. "Domain Learning and Opportunity Development in a High-Tech Context," Journal of Enterprising Culture (JEC), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 25(01), pages 67-96, March.
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    6. Ornella Wanda Maietta & Fernanda Mazzotta, 2018. "Firm Survival and Innovation: Knowledge Context Matters!," CSEF Working Papers 496, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    7. Shanshan Qian & Dalong Ma & Chao Miao, 2016. "Deciding To Discover Entrepreneurial Opportunities: A Multi-Level Investigation Based On Informational Economics And Resource Dependence Theory," Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship (JDE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 21(02), pages 1-19, June.
    8. Sandra Gottschalk & Francis J. Greene & Bettina Müller, 2017. "The impact of habitual entrepreneurial experience on new firm closure outcomes," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 303-321, February.
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    12. Paige Clayton & Maryann Feldman & Benjamin Montmartin, 2019. "Funding Emerging Ecosystems," GREDEG Working Papers 2019-25, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    13. Magdalena Markowska & Dietmar Grichnik & Jan Brinckmann & Diana Kapsa, 2019. "Strategic orientations of nascent entrepreneurs: antecedents of prediction and risk orientation," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 53(4), pages 859-878, December.
    14. John C. Dencker & Marc Gruber, 2015. "The effects of opportunities and founder experience on new firm performance," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(7), pages 1035-1052, July.
    15. Linda Argote & Ella Miron-Spektor, 2011. "Organizational Learning: From Experience to Knowledge," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(5), pages 1123-1137, October.
    16. Jing Yu Yang & Jiatao Li & Andrew Delios, 2015. "Will a Second Mouse Get the Cheese? Learning from Early Entrants’ Failures in a Foreign Market," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(3), pages 908-922, June.
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