An Explanation of the Life Span of New French Firms
In contrast to previous studies on firm survival which tend to focus on features related to the structure of the firms and their area of activity, our aim here is to widen the perspective usually adopted in the field, taking into account a larger and more qualitative set of variables. Among these variables, features related to the individual characteristics of the entrepreneur, to the context of entrepreneurship and to the insertion in entrepreneurial networks are significant to explain the life span of new firms. The empirical material is drawn from two surveys, which provide detailed data about a group of new firms created in France in 1994 and closed down before 1997 or still running in 1997. Our empirical approach on qualitative data is based on data analysis methods (linear discriminant analysis, barycentric discriminant analysis, analysis of variance). According to the characteristics of the entrepreneur, the main explanatory factors for the survival of new firms are the fact that they are entrepreneurs who have taken over firms, that they have acquired during their previous occupational activity an experience in the same branch of activity and that they experience a successful integration into the entrepreneurial networks. These three factors show that the survival of young firms is indirectly conditioned by the existence of an initial custom, by the mastery of a job and by the know-how in the entrepreneurial function.
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