Understanding the Consequences of Founders' Experience

Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by A. Rebecca Reuber

A. Rebecca Reuber

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Eileen Fischer

York University - Schulich School of Business

Date Written: 1999


On the whole, the existing body of literature regarding founders' experience is fragmented and inconclusive because there is often little conceptual basis for the way it is studied. The role and nature of experience is examined herein in detail, specifically recognizing that experience is the antecedent of present or future states. It is also argued that temporal considerations are necessary in studying the influence of experience. Two views of experience are considered: (1) stock of experience - viewed as a quality of an individual, team or firm at a particular point in time and (2) stream of experience - viewed as things that happen or events that occur during a specific time period which impact the venture. When stock experience is evaluated, it shown that since entrepreneurial activity requires innovation, creativity, or quick responses lengthy experience might be counterproductive - more experienced individuals sometimes need to unlearn old skills before they can learn new skills. Another important issue becomes the aging of the stock and how long it remains valuable. When stream experience is analyzed, it is shown that both higher and lower level organizational learning play important roles in firm performance. Higher level learning changes central assumptions, norms and priorities of the organization, while lower level learning increases firm efficiency of routine tasks. This model aids in identifying research issues and strategies. One issue with stream experience, e.g., is the level of detail and specificity with which experiences should be identified. (SFL)

Keywords: Entrepreneurship research, Founders, Experience, Educational background, Skills, Cognition, Startups, Organizational learning, Firm performance, Firm characteristics

Suggested Citation

Reuber, A. Rebecca and Fischer, Eileen, Understanding the Consequences of Founders' Experience (1999). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1505887

A. Rebecca Reuber (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Eileen Fischer

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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