Choosing between Growth and Glory
NBER Working Paper No. 24901
Prior work has established that the financing environment can impact firm strategy. We argue that this influence can shape the earliest strategic choices of a new venture by creating a potential tradeoff between two objectives: rapid growth and reaping the benefits of a positive reputation (glory). We leverage a simple reputation-building strategic choice, naming the firm after the founder (eponymy), that is associated with superior profitability. Next, we argue via a formal model that the availability of/dependence on external financing can explain why high-growth firms are rarely eponymous. We find empirical support for the model's predictions using a large dataset of 1 million European firms. Eponymous firms grow considerably more slowly than similarly profitable firms. Moreover, eponymy varies in accordance with the firm's financing environment in a pattern consistent with our model. We discuss implications for the literature on new venture strategy.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24901