An analysis of firm dynamics and seedbed role

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O'Leary, Daragh
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University College Cork
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Firm dynamics research can be considered an important area of study given the relationship between firm dynamics and economic growth. Firm births can increase economic growth and employment (Doran et al., 2016). Meanwhile firm deaths can reduce economic growth via increases in unemployment (Arcuri et al., 2019). However, firm deaths can also reallocate resources and create market room within the economy for other firms (Carree and Dejardin, 2020). Additionally, the post-entry growth of firms is an important aspect of firm dynamics for economic growth because most of the growth derived from entrepreneurship comes from a very small number of high-performing firms (Shane, 2009). As such, some have recommended the prioritising of investment into firms with fast-growth potential to achieve optimal economic growth (Du and Vanino, 2021). The importance of firm dynamics to economic growth is such that government organisations and policymakers look to promote entrepreneurship to achieve economic growth (BE, 2020; EU, 2021). Therefore, research concerning the birth, death, and performance of firms can be considered of interest to governments and policymakers as well as the academic literature. This Thesis looks to contribute to the small firm dynamics literature (Hopenhayn, 1992). Using Eurostat, OECD, and Irish Central Statistics Office data, econometric analysis is used to produce four empirical research papers which examine firm interrelationships, the regional determinants of firm births and deaths, and how the seedbed role influences the performance of new start-ups. This analysis provides several contributions to the literature. Firstly, the competition and multiplier effects set out by Johnson and Parker (1994) are examined and particular interest is paid to analysing these effects across different countries and over different periods of time. Secondly, the role of urbanisation and localisation economies as well as externalities related to regional diversification are examined in determining firm births and deaths across different countries while controlling for the mitigating effect of firm interrelationships. Thirdly, the role of relatedness is incorporated into firm interrelationships to see how competition and multiplier effects operate across different sectors (related and unrelated). Finally, a contribution is made to the literature concerning seedbed role, described by Beesley and Hamilton (1984), by analysing the influence of the seedbed process on the post-entry performance of new Irish firms. The findings of the analyses on firm interrelationships indicate that firm interrelationships can change across time and sectors. Evidence of the multiplier is observed over one year where firm births appear to increase firm births the following year. However, over two and three years, evidence for the competition effect is found whereby firm births can increase firm deaths in two- and three-years’ time and that firm deaths can increase firm births in two years’ time. Furthermore, multiplier effects appear more likely to occur between firms in related sectors and competition effects appear more likely to occur between firms in unrelated sectors. Significant variations in firm birth and death rates are also observed across countries. Findings regarding regional factors as determinants of firm births and deaths indicate that both urbanisation and localisation economies increase firm births and decrease firm deaths. Related variety appears to reduce firm births and increase firm deaths, while unrelated variety is found to increase firm births and decrease firm deaths. Finally, the seedbed process is shown to influence the growth of new Irish start-ups as firms set up by individuals who previously worked at firms which died are themselves more likely to die and more likely to have lower mean annual employment growth during their existence. However, they are also more likely to exhibit fast-firm growth at some point during their existence. Implications for policy and contributions for the literature are discussed in the Thesis.
Firm dynamics , Firm births , Firm deaths , Firm interrelationships , Seedbed role
O'Leary, D. 2023. An analysis of firm dynamics and seedbed role. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.