Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by David Smallbone, João Leitão, Mário Raposo and Friederike Welter
Chapter 8: Exploring Entrepreneurial Exits: A Study of Individual Exit Experiences in Finland and the UK
Satu Aaltonen, Robert Blackburn and Jarna Heinonen INTRODUCTION Research on entrepreneurship has tended to focus on the creation of new businesses, the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, as well as the factors behind successful fast-growing new ventures (Politis 2008). In contrast, research on the entrepreneurial exit process and its outcomes is less abundant and often viewed in a negative light (Blackburn and Kovalainen 2009; Mason and Harrison 2006; Politis and Gabrielsson 2009). In this chapter, we argue that it is important to study entrepreneurial exits: both the business entities as well as the people that are central to the exit process. The research findings can help scholars better understand and model entrepreneurial value creation and business life-cycle processes (McGrath 1999). Indeed, our understanding of the entrepreneurial process is incomplete without studying entrepreneurial exits, as this stage of the life cycle has significant effects on entrepreneurs, companies, industries and the economy more broadly (DeTienne 2008). The literature that exists on entrepreneurial exit tends to associate this process with business failure and often infers that the majority of exits represent unsuccessful businesses (Blackburn and Kovalainen 2009; Stokes and Blackburn 2002). Therefore, entrepreneurial exits are usually considered as a waste of scarce resources, and something to be avoided. More recent thinking argues that exit does not necessarily refer to business failure but the entrepreneurial exit may be a successful outcome (for example, Blackburn and Kovalainen 2009; DeTienne 2009; Headd 2003; Schutjens and Stam 2007; Stokes and Blackburn 2002; Ucbasaran et al. 2009a; Wennberg et...