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CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

This study reports findings from ongoing research examining resources in new and growing ventures. Our sample of 152 companies rated the favorability/ unfavorability of five different types of resources (organizational, human, social, physical and financial). All companies were small (less than 500 employees). Our interest in this project was to explore the extent to which combinations of resources varied by age. The life cycle literature offers multiple descriptions of phases/stages of organizational growth, but these are typically problem, risk, or crisis driven. Less attention is given to resources or their combinations. The ability of a new and growing venture to identify resources more or less important depending on phase of development is linked to future success. The resource based view offers a foundation for examining resources, arguing that organizations are comprised of bundles of resources (Connor, 1991; Barney, 1991) and that perceptions and expectations of the manager will affect growth (Penrose, 1959).

TABLE 7A

Individual and Company Characteristics and Resource Descriptors: Firms < 10 years

  Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4 Factor 5    
Resource Categories Org. Org. Human Finance Human Social Physical
Descriptors Employee/Procs/Rels Tech. Expertise/Cost structure Owner/Founder Expertise Educ. Finance access Owner/Founder Yrs. Exp. Personal networks Equipment
 
Ind. Characteristics
1. Age -.33a   .40*        
2. Gender     .40*        
3. Marital Status -.43*         -.21a  
Co. Characteristics
4. Industry     .38a       -.37**
5. % Ownership       -.60**      
6. Sales 1994             -.41*
7. Employees 1994              

ap<.10 * p<.05 **p<.01 ***p<.001

Findings from our study show that resource combinations do vary by age. In particular, young firms emphasize human resources more strongly than older firms consistent with the strong role of the founder at start-up. Particularly, the expertise, education and experience of the founder is highlighted in early years, whereas in older organizations, experience and years in position are noted. The composition of organizational resources also varies by age. In younger firms, these are comprised of employee capabilities, customer relations and alliances, whereas older firms note organizational resources composed of cost structures, operating efficiencies and customer services. The influence of the owner/founder shows up more clearly in our correlation analyses- younger firms resources are more strongly correlated to owner/founder characteristics, while older firms resources are associated with organizational characteristics.

As with any ongoing research, this study has limitations. We only considered two age groups rather than 4 or 5 posited by the life cycle literature. Our next step is to do a finer grained analysis by phase to examine more carefully resources based on narrower age groupings. Furthermore, our measures ask favorability of resources, and considertaion of the extent to which favorable or unfavorable resources are related to performance should be studied.

This work raises questions about causes of changes in combinations. While our data does not permit investigation of catalysts for change, such as management turnover, environmental shocks, strategic changes, or performance, many questions regarding causes of changes in resource combinations, pacing of changes and degree of change are topics for future research. Moreover, the transformation in resources over time is also of interest. It is posited that new ventures start with "simple" bundles of resources, that become more "complex" over time (Greene, Brush, Hart, 1997). Changes in sophistication are implied in the life cycle literature, yet empirical studies have not verified this.

TABLE 7B

Individual and Company Characteristics and Resource Descriptors: Firms >= 10 years

  Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4 Factor 5 Factor 6    
Resource Categories Org. Org. Org. Human Finance Org. Social Physical
Descriptors Procs. Intnl Expertise O/F Yrs. Exp. Finance access Alliances Personal networks Equipment
   
Ind. Characteristics  
1. Age         .33*      
2. Gender .32a           -.24a  
3. Marital Status                
Co. Characteristics  
4. Industry           .42* .38**  
5. % Ownership     -.33a .35a        
6. Sales 1994 .33a     .43*        
7. Employees 1994               -.40**

ap<.10 * p<.05 **p<.01 ***p<.001

For owner/managers, a better understanding of combinations of resources can be essential for understanding the basis for product/market strategies. This study implies that emphasis on building organizational procedures, alliances and customer capabilities is important at a younger age, while attention to organizational systems for cost management and efficiency should be emphasized in later stages.

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