Abstract

Although entrepreneurial exit is a central topic of entrepreneurship research, we still have limited insights into what drives founders to exit their firms. In this paper, we begin to answer questions about the antecedents of founder exit. We adopt two theoretical lenses to examine this. First, we draw upon ‘dynamic states’ theory to examine the internal (i.e. within firm; organizational) and external (i.e. outside the firm; competitive) challenges that young firms face. This approach helps move the field beyond ‘external capital’ views of succession (Wasserman, 2003). Second, we draw upon human capital theory to examine the experience and skills of the founders. Human capital has been shown to be an important predictor of exit strategy (DeTienne & Cardon, 2011). It may therefore also inform founder exit on based on firm performance thresholds and alternate founder career opportunities (Gimeno et al., 1997).

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