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Strategies, Uncertainty and Performance of Small Business Startups


  • van Gelderen, Marco
  • Frese, Michael
  • Thurik, Roy


Personal strategies of owners/founders of small business startups are related to performance and to environmental uncertainty. This is done using a longitudinal data set. Personal strategies are operationalized by a behavioral measure of the manners in which small business founders deal with situations. The results suggest a dynamic process between strategy and performance. Business owners that perform poorly employ a Reactive Strategy, with poor performance leading to increased use of reactive behavior. High performing business owners start out focussing on the most crucial issues (Critical Point Strategy), with high performance leading to a more top-down (Complete Planning) approach. These relations are controlled for characteristics of the environment of the firm. Strategy use is dependent upon the type and level of environmental uncertainty. Complete Planning strategy is used less frequently in a fast changing environment and more often in a complex environment. Use of Opportunistic Strategy is negatively related to the complexity of the environment, while the Reactive Strategy is used more frequently in a non-munificent environment. Copyright 2000 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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  • van Gelderen, Marco & Frese, Michael & Thurik, Roy, 2000. "Strategies, Uncertainty and Performance of Small Business Startups," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 165-181.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:15:y:2000:i:3:p:165-81

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David B. Audretsch & A. Roy Thurik, 2000. "Capitalism and democracy in the 21st Century: from the managed to the entrepreneurial economy," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 17-34.
    2. Audretsch, D.B. & Houweling, P. & Thurik, A.R., 1998. "Firm Failure and Industrial Dynamics in the Netherlands," Papers 9802/a, NEUHUYS - RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM.
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    5. Wennekers, Sander & Thurik, Roy, 1999. "Linking Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 27-55, August.
    6. Audretsch, D-B & Menkveld, A-J & Thurik, A-R, 1996. "The Decision Between Internal and External R&D," Papers 9603/e, NEUHUYS - RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM.
    7. Audretsch, David B & Thurik, A R Roy, 1997. "Sources of Growth: the Entrepreneurial versus the Managed Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1710, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Lever, M.H.C. & Nieuwenhuijsen, H.R. & van Stel, A.J., 1998. "The Degree of Collusion in Construction," Papers 9810/e, NEUHUYS - RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Caliendo & Frank Fossen & Alexander Kritikos, 2014. "Personality characteristics and the decisions to become and stay self-employed," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 787-814, April.
    2. Schwartz, Dafna & Bar-El, Raphael, 2002. "Targeted consultancy services as an instrument for the development of rural SMEs - a brazilian case," ERSA conference papers ersa02p200, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Lueg, Rainer & Borisov, Boris Genadiev, 2014. "Archival or perceived measures of environmental uncertainty? Conceptualization and new empirical evidence," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 658-671.
    4. van Gelderen, A.M. & van der Sluis, L. & Jansen, P., 2004. "Learning Opportunities And Learning Behaviours Of Small Business Starters: Relations With Goal Achievement, Skill Development, And Satisfaction," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2004-037-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    5. Brinckmann, Jan & Grichnik, Dietmar & Kapsa, Diana, 2010. "Should entrepreneurs plan or just storm the castle? A meta-analysis on contextual factors impacting the business planning-performance relationship in small firms," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 24-40, January.
    6. Mark Koetse & Arno Vlist & Henri Groot, 2006. "The Impact of Perceived Expectations and Uncertainty on Firm Investment," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 365-376, May.
    7. Lin Song & Darline Augustine & Jing Yu Yang, 2016. "Environmental uncertainty, prospector strategy, and new venture performance: the moderating role of network capabilities," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 1103-1126, December.
    8. Pierre-André Julien & Josée St-Pierre, 2012. "Entrepreneur, incertitude et information : un essai d’application," Post-Print hal-01705651, HAL.
    9. Block, Joern & Sandner, Philipp & Spiegel, Frank, 2009. "Do risk attitudes differ within the group of entrepreneurs?," MPRA Paper 17587, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Erik Knol, 2005. "Nanotechnology and business opportunities: scenarios as awareness instrument," Industrial Organization 0501003, EconWPA.
    11. WHC Knol, 2005. "Nanotechnology and business opportunities: scenarios as awareness instrument," Development and Comp Systems 0501003, EconWPA.
    12. Mayer-Haug, Katrin & Read, Stuart & Brinckmann, Jan & Dew, Nicholas & Grichnik, Dietmar, 2013. "Entrepreneurial talent and venture performance: A meta-analytic investigation of SMEs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 1251-1273.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups


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