Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research
1997 Edition


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1William B. Gartner
2Kelly G. Shaver
1Kathleen R. Allen
3Subodh Bhat
4Elizabeth J. Gatewood

1The Entrepreneur Program, USC, Los Angeles, CA  90089-1421
2College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA  23185-8750
3College of Business, SFSU, San Francisco, CA  94132
4University of Houston, Houston, TX  77002

Telephone: 1213-740-0648, | 2804-221-3885, | 3415-388-6289, | 4713-752-8444
Fax: 1213-740-2976, | 2804-221-3896, | 3415-338-0501, | 4713-756-1500

Principal Topics

This was a cross-sectional study of 1288 businesses in San Francisco, primarily newer and smaller firms, from a wide variety of industries and neighborhoods.  The purpose of this study was to explore factors affecting the growth expectations of the 1288 business owners. We evaluate and categorize prior theory and findings about the factors affecting firm growth expectations by the owner's gender; the owner's ethnicity; the owner's experience and attitudes; firm type, age and size; and environment.  Hypotheses about these factors are offered and subsequently tested.


During Summer, 1996 a questionnaire was mailed to 6,000 of the 37,249 businesses (retail, wholesale, manufacturing, service, and distribution) operating in the City and County of San Francisco.  A total of 1288 surveys were returned (a 21.5% response rate).  The survey sample was compared to census information from City and County data sources and found to match distributions by firm type, owner gender, owner ethnicity, and location.

Major Findings

Growth expectations were positively correlated to the ownership of larger and older businesses.  Growth expectations were negatively correlated to the ownership of certain types of retail and service firms (e.g., small neighborhood grocery stores, service stations, laundry/dry cleaners) and perceptions of neighborhood crime.

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