Entrepreneurial growth and exit orientations : a study of Finnish venture founders
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Growth ventures and entrepreneurs attract interest in public conversation and media, and they are important actors in enhancing employment, productivity, and innovations. Growth ventures are naturally associated with the expectation of growth, but also entrepreneurial exit, the latter with perhaps more minor attention in the literature and public conversation. However, it is assumed that the founder(s) withdraws from managerial or ownership responsibilities at some point in the venture life cycle, especially in growth companies. Founder’s exit has various consequences to founders themselves, company’s stakeholders, and organization, as well as the surrounding environment. Despite limited academic knowledge on entrepreneurial exit, different positive impacts of the exit have been presented: accumulated human and financial capital that are along with exit released back to the economic cycle. Nevertheless, much is still unknown regarding the psychological and broader economic impacts on an entrepreneur’s exit. This study aims to enlighten these aspects, among other things. The study was conducted by interviewing eight Finnish, growth-oriented venture founders in different stages of their entrepreneurial paths. Based on these interviews, an in-depth understanding of their growth and exit orientations is presented. The findings were analysed with interpretive methods meaning that the conclusions are subjective to the researcher’s interpretation. Growth and exit have been purposely combined in this study. The first objective is to comprehend which aspects influence founders’ growth orientation and ambitions as they are considered essential factors in leading the company towards a successful entrepreneurial exit. The second interest is how the founders perceive the surrounding phenomena of growth and exit culture. And lastly, how the exited founders discuss their exit. In the findings, multidimensional and, to some extent, complex founder perceptions are visible. Political responsibility is expected for both growth and exit matters, and the existing political systems are both acclaimed and criticized. In addition, despite there might generally prevail enthusiastic and positive attitude towards entrepreneurial exit among growth entrepreneurs, the interviewed founders’ concern is that such phenomenon neglects important societal matters such as building sustainable, domestic success stories. ...
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