Variable risk preferences in new firm growth and survival

Karl Wennberg, Frédéric Delmar, Alexander Mckelvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


We outline and test a decision-making theory of new venture growth and survival. Building upon research in entrepreneurship and decision making under risk, we hypothesize that entrepreneurs' attention to survival and aspiration reference points changes based on venture age (experience-based learning), size (differences in decision complexity), and performance decision domain. Examining a panel of 14,760 new ventures in the professional services sector, our findings show how risk preferences change as a venture ages and increases in size. This approach offers a more nuanced view of decision making under risk and provides a theoretical explanation for the common patterns of new ventures' probability of exit and growth diminishing with age and size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-427
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Aspiration levels
  • Focus of attention
  • Growth
  • New ventures
  • Risk preferences
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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