Entrepreneurs' decisions on timing of entry: Learning from participation and from the experiences of others

Moren Lévesque, Maria Minniti, Dean Shepherd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Depending on the type of industry, an entrepreneur's decision of when to enter an industry may be a crucial one. The longer entrepreneurs wait, the more they learn from others. However, by waiting, they reduce their ability to learn directly and the possibility of locking in competitive advantages. We suggest that the optimal time of entry depends on the hostility of the learning environment since the latter has an impact on dimensions of performance, such as profit potential and mortality risk. The environment for entrepreneurial learning is less hostile when the information to be learned is abundant and when learning from others is relatively more effective at increasing performance than learning from participation. Our results suggest that delaying entry is desirable when the environment is less hostile. Entrepreneurs, however, cannot wait forever. We show that, under some general conditions, an optimal time of entry can be determined, and discuss the specific situations in which, instead, multiple equilibria may arise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-570
Number of pages24
JournalEntrepreneurship: Theory and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics


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