Abstract

Entrepreneurial exit is a critical component and a distinctive domain of the entrepreneurial process (DeTienne & Chirico, 2013). Why, how, and when founder-managers leave their ventures have lasting implications for their subsequent undertakings, as well as the survival and performance of the venture they have left (Ucbasaran, Westhead, Wright, & Flores, 2010). Despite its important implications, researchers have only recently begun to systematically expound different exit pathways (Wennberg, Wiklund, DeTienne, Cardon, 2010; DeTienne, McKelvie, Chandler, 2015).

Although entrepreneurs have both founder (equity) and executive (management) stakes in their ventures, the different pathways in which they can disengage from their ventures have received very little attention (Robbie & Wright, 1995). Some founder-managers disengage from their firms as managers while retaining an equity stake (e.g. in growing startups), whereas others might be forced to dilute their equity stake disproportionate to their managerial involvement (e.g. for cash-strapped ventures that still have the potential for a future turnaround – Hellmann, 1998; Schwienbacher, 2007). Thus, we need to consider how an entrepreneur disengages from her venture along equity and/or management dimensions, as well as the different pathways that shape the disengagement process and the ultimate exit.

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