1st Edition

The Evolution of Business
Interpretative Theory, History and Firm Growth





ISBN 9780367733414
Published December 18, 2020 by Routledge
206 Pages

USD $48.95

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Book Description

Firm growth. This concept has interested researchers for generations. Economists have sought to predict and measure firm growth using a host of different variables, while strategic management scholars depict growth as the result of clever analyses and rational resource exploitation. Entrepreneurship scholars - ever engrossed by successful start-ups - have pondered why growth sometimes comes fast and sometimes never at all, while the field of business history has given countless examples of growing firms in a range of different settings. Yet despite research across fields, our knowledge of how growth in a firm actually comes about is limited and we still know little about the process.



This book offers a new reading of economist Edith Penrose’s The Theory of the Growth of the Firm. The bold statement is that although Penrose’s work - across fields and generations - is amongst the most quoted on firm growth, the basic points of her work have yet to be realized and explored empirically.



Essentially, growth is created by a dynamic interrelation between the firm’s self-conception and its image of context. Based on these two subjective categories, the firm makes decisions and its actions lead it to develop along a particular path. To Penrose this is the basic engine that drives the growth and development of firms.



This book discusses how the engine of firm growth can be captured in empirical analysis using interpretative theory and narrative methods inspired by recent streams of research in business history.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction



Penrose and the historical study of firm growth



Subjectivity, entrepreneurial attitude, and image of context



The creation of meaning



The social nature of meaning



Change and Geertz’ concept of culture



Thick Description and narratives



The case of Fiberline and the use of empirical material





2. Founding a company and formulating a basic narrative



The circumstances of the start-up



Pultrusion



The basic narrative of Fiberline



Establishing a proper motive and a founder



Naming the product and the market



Specifying the production process and constructing the birth of a company





3. The prior experience of Henrik Thorning and the context of the Start-up



The plastic industry in Denmark in the 1970s and start 80s



The development of the composite industry in Denmark



Environmental concerns and organizing the industry



Dukadan and Henrik Thorning’s two years working there



Jotun



Innovation in the Danish plastic industry





4. Putting resources to service and strengthening the basic narrative in the start-up process



Getting started



The first sales



The everydayness of acute problems





 



 





5. How should the profiles of Fiberline be sold?



Pressure building



Strong export growth of the Danish plastic industry



A gradual focus on sales



Standard profiles and distributors



The origins of the international focus



The narrative of how profiles should be sold and to whom





6. The efforts of financing and opportunities for growth



Continued pressure after 1983



Financing behavior over time



Bootstrapping and effectuation in financing behavior





7. Productive opportunities and technological base



The growth of Fiberline and of the Danish plastic industry from the mid-1980s until the late 1990s



External inducements to diversification - Processed profiles and systems



Internal inducements to diversification – phenol based profiles and construction profiles





8. Market focus and developing the sales organization



The composites industry around the turn of the millennium



Seven good years of development and organization building



Establishing the sales organization



Diversification and uncertainty



Sales and strategic plans in the early 1990s



Operational systems and the strategic plans in the late 1990s





9. Discussion



The case of Fiberline and the theoretical choices I have made



The study of firm growth and path dependency



The study of business history



The study of entrepreneurship



The study of internationalization





10. Conclusion

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Author(s)

Biography

Ellen M. Korsager is an Assistant professor of business history at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.