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INTRODUCTION

Studies of individuals have implied that the nature of entrepreneurship involves issues of control and ownership as the primary dependent variable (Gartner and Shane, 1995).  Recognition of the importance of ownership emphasizes the potential for entrepreneurship to be extended from start-ups to cases where individuals purchase a firm and/or where they have inherited the business from the original founder.  In addition, the introduction of direct equity ownership through stock options and managerial equity holdings in subsidiaries of groups emphasizes the importance of an ownership interest in the firm for corporate entrepreneurship to be enhanced.  Whether analysis focuses on individuals or organizations, there is a need to recognize that entrepreneurship may not be a single-event action.  Researchers have recently focused upon the characteristics of novice and habitual founders.  Survey evidence has revealed approximately a third of owner-managers are habitual founders because they have prior business founding experience (Birley and Westhead, 1993).  Habitual founders are, therefore, an important phenomenon.

As yet, there is no generally accepted definition of a 'habitual' entrepreneur (Birley and Westhead, 1993).  Nevertheless, Wright et al., (1997) have suggested that habitual entrepreneurship can be viewed along two broad dimensions, whether entrepreneurship involves a new or existing business and whether or not there is a change of ownership between ventures (Table 1).  This framework includes habitual entrepreneurs, who have founded, inherited and / or purchased businesses or who have undertaken multiple actions as corporate entrepreneurs.  In discussing habitual or multiple business founders, Hall (1995) distinguished portfolio owners, where ownership of the first venture was maintained when a subsequent venture was embarked upon, from serial owners who disposed of one venture before founding another.  Corporate entrepreneurship involves managers creating new combinations of resources in existing firms.  Multiple corporate entrepreneurship may occur within the same firm with individual managers undertaking repeated entrepreneurial actions.  Managers in such organizations may be remunerated at least in part by direct ownership stakes in the business, either through stock options or through direct ownership in the subsidiary of a larger group where they are employed.  These categories suggest a broad research agenda which is beyond the scope of a single paper. This paper examines differences between novice founders and multiple start-up cases and between serial and portfolio founders.  It should be emphasized that these differences may be blurred to the extent that a subset of current novice founders will at a later date become serial or portfolio founders.

In order to focus upon the characteristics of habitual founders this paper is structured as follows.  Theoretical frameworks and empirical studies are summarized in order to identify behavioural differences between novice, serial and portfolio founders as well as differences between their businesses.  Propositions are derived suggesting differences between the three 'types' of founders and their businesses.  The subsequent section describes the data collection methodology.  Results from the univariate and multivariate analyses are then presented and derived propositions are formally tested.  The final section presents our conclusions and suggestions for further research.

TABLE 1
Categorization Of Multiple Or Habitual Entrepreneurship


 
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