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RESearch Track

Track Chair: Oliver Som & Bernd Ebersberger, Management Center Innsbruck, Austria

Description of the track

Numerous studies have dealt with the value of entrepreneurship to economic development, job creation, and innovation (Carree/Thurik 2010; Lee et al. 2011). However, a significant proportion of new ventures fail (Wiklund et al. 2010). Edison’s famous quote “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” highlights the necessity of failure to succeed in the innovation game. Recently “fail fast, fail often” has become a mantra of innovators and entrepreneurs. Interestingly, although failure has lost a lot of its bitter aftertaste, it has received comparatively little attention in academia. Like success, failure can be regarded as a highly complex phenomenon. Consequently, previous research has addressed the topic from a variety of angles. As (Hoetker/Agarwal 2007; Knott & Posen, 2005) highlight, failure can serve the economy and society due to the release of knowledge and resources from defunct businesses. Deichmann and van Ende (2013) find that failure doesn’t necessarily result in a loss of momentum on the individual level, if a person approaches new projects enthusiastically driven by prior success. Ederer and Manso (2013) even show that supporting failure in the beginning of the innovation process seems to be fruitful in order to foster innovation. Finally, on a more general note, learning from failure might be more valuable than learning from success (Madsen & Desai 2010). On the other side, however, failure could also be an emotional and traumatic experience for the entrepreneur (Cope 2011; Shepherd 2003) that obstructs learning. Even if learning has taken place, for these learning benefits to materialize, the failed entrepreneur must deploy the resultant new knowledge – for example, by embarking on another entrepreneurial venture (Ucbasaran et al. 2010).

This track focuses on research and management practices on the reasons for failure and effects of failure on the levels of the economy, companies, and the individual level (entrepreneur). While not intending to be exclusive, we particularly welcome submissions from a wider interdisciplinary range of researchers, experts and scholars, such as those in management, economics, organizational theory, sociology or psychology.

 Key specific topics and research questions

•   Cultural differences in dealing with entrepreneurial and business failure
•   Effects and impacts on failure on the economy, company or individual entrepreneur
•   Developing organizational routines for learning from failure
•   How to manage failure in the innovation process
•   Behavioural and mental dispositions for “successful” failing on the individual level
We particularly encourage country-specific conceptual and empirical research papers that extend and develop our understanding of failure and will deliver academic outcomes but also practical and policy implications.

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