Skip to main content

Please enter a keyword and click the arrow to search the site

Revisiting the small-firm effect on entrepreneurship: evidence from firm dissolutions


Organization Science


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

Kacperczyk A;Marx M

Publication Year



A frequent claim in the entrepreneurship literature is that employees learn to become entrepreneurs during paid employment. We revisit this mechanism in the context of the well-established finding that smaller firms generate higher rates of entrepreneurship. We propose a novel mechanism responsible for higher rates of entrepreneurship emanating from smaller firms: large firms might have a advantage over small firms in providing internal opportunities to retain entrepreneurial talent. We test this claim in a setting where firm dissolution extinguishes internal opportunities, using a new hand-collected data set of career histories in the automatic speech recognition (ASR) industry. For nondefunct firms, we replicate the “small-firm effect.” However, the small-firm effect no longer holds within the subsample of defunct firms: entrepreneurship rates among individuals present at firm dissolution are in fact higher for larger firms. Additional analyses indicate that this effect is unlikely to be driven by the early departure of higher-skilled workers who anticipate the firm’s demise. Finally, we find preliminary evidence consistent with the notion that large organizations may not only retain but also “mold” workers into entrepreneurs. More broadly, the study emphasizes the need to consider a novel mechanism responsible for transition into entrepreneurship—the role of opportunities available to employees in incumbent firms.


Entrepreneurship; Labour markets

Available on ECCH


Select up to 4 programmes to compare

Select one more to compare
subscribe_image_desktop 5949B9BFE33243D782D1C7A17E3345D0

Sign up to receive our latest news and business thinking direct to your inbox


Sign up to receive our latest course information and business thinking

Leave your details above if you would like to receive emails containing the latest thought leadership, invitations to events and news about courses that could enhance your career. If you would prefer not to receive our emails, you can still access the case study by clicking the button below. You can opt-out of receiving our emails at any time by visiting: or by unsubscribing through the link provided in our emails. View our Privacy Policy for more information on your rights.