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The Age Effect In Entrepreneurship: Founder's Tenure, Firm Performance And The Economic Environment

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Executive Summary

This paper tests the effect of founder's tenure on firm performance by taking into account the impact of the changes occurring in the economic environment. The authors use a large dataset of founder-run firms that includes, in addition to financial data, company data directly collected through a survey of about 2,000 Italian firms. Unlike the negative relationship reported in most empirical papers, they found an inverted U-shaped relationship between founder-CEO tenure and firm performance. This relationship is strongly influenced by the characteristics of the environment in which the company competes: while experience plays a key role in fostering performance in less innovative and less competitive sectors, a dynamic environment makes the performance of the firm less responsive to the benefits of founder tenure.

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