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When Liability Becomes Potential: Intermediary Entrepreneurship in Dynamic Market Contexts


  • Tünde Cserpes


This paper analyzes how entrepreneurs fare in an intermediary market segment when the segment is closely attached to a single supplier market. While focusing on two structural constraints, organizational structure and competitive pressure, I build off of the fact that in the past thirty years in the U.S. beer industry, as the number of beer producers (i.e. brewers) proliferated, their intermediaries (i.e. wholesalers) declined. Using establishment-level restricted-access economic microdata from the Longitudinal Business Database, I examine what happens with intermediaries when (some) producers start competing on product variety instead of competing on scale. Piecewise exponential survival models show that Stinchcombe’s ‘liability of newness’ principle can get suspended and certain newcomers have better survival chances than industry incumbents. I call this effect the potential of newness under which entrepreneurial establishments fare better if they are part of well-resourced multiunit firms. Furthermore, I show that these resource-rich entrepreneurs benefit from the potential of newness especially in areas with competition-laden history and where the industry experiences shakeouts. For market incumbents, the more competition-laden the history of the local market, the higher the hazards of current time establishment failure. For multiunit entrepreneurs, however, a more competition-laden history of the local market is associated with a decrease in the hazards of current time establishment failure. This paper highlights that market structure not only enables but sometimes traps already existing organizations and make them less adaptive to changing logics of competition. The results highlight how organizational factors and geography create inequalities among intermediary organizations.

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  • Tünde Cserpes, 2018. "When Liability Becomes Potential: Intermediary Entrepreneurship in Dynamic Market Contexts," Working Papers 18-21, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:18-21

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