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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays on new venture survival and growth Thornhill, Stewart


This thesis is comprised of three essays dealing with the survival and growth of business enterprises. The first paper (Chapter 2) explores a long-standing question in corporate venture management: How closely should a corporate parent link itself with its own venture? We challenge the conventional view that autonomy is best for venture growth by arguing that access to the parent's resources and capabilities (i.e., a "tight fit") is essential if a venture is to demonstrate competitive advantage. Data from 97 Canadian corporate ventures generally support the "tight-fit" hypothesis. We also find empirical support for the proposition that the relationship between a corporate parent and its venture(s) evolves over time; economic ties diminish with venture maturity, relational ties remain intact. The next paper (Chapter 3) models the growth and decline of young firms as a function of their initial asset stocks, initial capabilities, rate of capability development, rate of asset depletion, and failure threshold. Data from 246 Canadian corporate bankruptcies confirm that young firms fail due to insufficient organizational capital at start-up and inadequacies in managerial knowledge, financial management skills, and marketing abilities. Older firms, on the other hand, are more prone to failure due to environmental change. The final paper (Chapter 4) utilizes detailed survey data from a proportionally stratified, representative sample of 3,000 Canadian firms to evaluate industry- and firm-level determinants of young firm growth. The competitive environment is found to be a poor predictor of the growth of young firms. In general, growth of the seven to ten year old firms in our study did not follow the growth trends of the industries in which they operated. Among firm strategies, innovation was the strongest predictor of revenue growth. Also of note was the finding that different types of managerial experience were significant in different sectors. For service firms, general management experience was positively associated with growth, while for goods-producing firms industry experience was a more important factor.

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