The temporal dynamics of entrepreneurial growth: an event structure analysis in an entrepreneurial firm
Morse, Eric A.
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In the interest of advancing our understanding of entrepreneurial growth, this research has analyzed the five-stage growth model of Churchill and Lewis (1983). The goal of this analysis has been to add to our stock of knowledge about the Churchill and Lewis Model. To achieve this goal, event structure analysis (Heise, 1988, 1989) is applied to a large ethnographic data base on the life of National Software Corporation (NSC). Event structure analysis is a methodology for finding logical structure in qualitative data. Such logical structure can be used to theorize about temporal ordering of events leading to some conclusion, such as the events leading to the end of a particular crisis, or to the beginning of a new stage of growth. The ability to theorize, about events leading to outcomes, will help us to understand how these outcomes come about. This study found that the Churchill and Lewis (1983) Model does a good job of specifying the sequence of events that occur as the firm moves between stages of growth. However, the Model is not satisfactory in explaining how an owner can assess current patterns of events or why one event flows logically from the last or on to the next. This study also found the Churchill and Lewis (1983) Model lacking in contextual development in two areas. First, the Churchill and Lewis Model does not take outside influences such as alliances, boards, and other stakeholders into account. Second, the Churchill and Lewis Model does not account well for those firms whose intent is an entrepreneurial harvest. This study is also significant for the introduction of event structure analysis (Heise, 1988, 1989). An extensive literature review shows this study to be the first application of event structure analysis in the management literature.