Foundations and Trends® in Entrepreneurship > Vol 2 > Issue 1

Nascent Entrepreneurship: Empirical Studies and Developments

By Per Davidsson, Brisbane Graduate School of Business, QUT, Australia,

Suggested Citation
Per Davidsson (2006), "Nascent Entrepreneurship: Empirical Studies and Developments", Foundations and Trends® in Entrepreneurship: Vol. 2: No. 1, pp 1-76.

Publication Date: 15 Jun 2006
© 2006 P. Davidsson
Nascent and start-up entrepreneurs,  New venture creation process
L26 entrepreneurshipM13 new firms and start-upsL1 firm strategy
Small firm growthOrganizational life-cycleGrowth strategies

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In this article:
1 Introduction 
2 Person Factors Leading to Nascent Entrepreneur Status 
3 The Discovery Process 
4 The Exploitation Process 
5 Some Particular Themes 
6 The Bigger Picture 
7 Developments So Far 
8 Further Development Needs 
9 Conclusion 


The key ideas behind the empirical study of 'nascent entrepreneurship' are that the research aims to identify a statistically representative sample of on-going venture start-up efforts and that these start-up efforts are subsequently followed over time so that insights can be gained also into process issues and determinants of outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to take stock of the developments of 'nascent entrepreneur' – or 'firm gestation' – research so far, and to suggest directions for future research efforts along those lines. For this purpose a review has been made of some 75 journal articles, various book chapters, conference papers and research reports.

The review shows that the current approach to capturing on-going start-up efforts and studying their concurrent development longitudinally is a basically sound, workable approach that has opened up a new and very promising avenue for entrepreneurship research. While many interesting results have already been reported and while considerable improvements on both the method and theory sides of research have been made, there is still room and need for further improvements. A set of 17 specific propositions is developed towards that end.

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Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. What Is Growth?
3. How Should Growth Be Assessed?
4. What Factors Facilitate or Hinder Growth?
5. Modes of Small Firm Growth
6. Growth Stages and Transitions
7. The Effects of Growth
8. Towards an Integrative Framework for Future Research on Small Firm Growth

Nascent Entrepreneurship

Small Firm Growth has two purposes – to review the extant empirical literature on small firm growth by focusing on small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) and to suggest a framework for integrating our knowledge on small firm growth to guide future research. The authors identify a number of key themes: the conceptualization of small firm growth, assessing small firm growth, factors driving or hindering growth, modes of growth (such as organic growth versus acquisitions), growth stages and transition, and the effects of small firm growth. Small Firm Growth first discusses the nature of the phenomenon of small firm growth and its relation to entrepreneurship as well as size and age. It then moves on to how growth can best be assessed. A major section is devoted to findings on factors that contribute to or hinder firm growth. Following this it offers a section on how small firms grow, if and when they grow at all. In particular, it examines organic growth versus acquisitions; growth through networking and alliances, and international expansion. The next topic treated is 'growth stages and transitions' and the effects of growth in terms of profitability and job creation. Finally, the authors propose a framework for guiding future research and furthering management theory and practice on small firm growth.