Le processus décisionnel menant à la sortie entrepreneuriale : le cas de dirigeants de PME

Authors: Drapeau, Marie-Josée
Advisor: Tremblay, Maripier
Abstract: Purpose- Entrepreneurial exit is an integral part of the entrepreneurial process. Entrepreneurs may exit their business at any given time in their entrepreneurial career and for a variety of reasons. Although the phenomenon of entrepreneurial exit has raised much interest in recent years, focus has mainly been on the anticipated massive retirement of baby boomers. Accordingly, many studies by public and private organisations have expressed concern at the lack of preparation of these entrepreneurs as their retirement from a large number of SMEs approaches. An examination of these studies reveals a lack of understanding of the decisions associated with entrepreneurial exit. The current literature on entrepreneurial exit is interested in the different options open to owners when exiting their business: public sale, sale to a competitor, liquidation/ceding, and the transmission to a third party. The latter, whether to family members, employees, or external parties, remains the preferred exit mode by entrepreneurs. Business transmission is a complex process and important gaps exist in this emergent literature. The field of entrepreneurial exit is mainly interested in decisions once already made, and not in the process itself. The objective of this thesis by article is therefore, to fill this gap by focusing on the decision-making process of exiting entrepreneurs when choosing to transmit their business. Design- A qualitative approach was privileged for this research to deepen the context, process and interaction of the decision-making process. A multiple case study was conducted with 15 SME owner-managers. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with owners and other informants in order to validate the statements and events linked to the manager’s decision-making process. Findings- The first article proposes a model inspired by strategic management literature that sets a scientific basis and new exploration angle for conducting qualitative research on the phenomenon. The insight provided complements the results obtained through quantitative research in the entrepreneurial exit field. The second article explores the possible trajectories that the decision-making process may take according to a causal versus effectual path. While causality implies rationality and analysis, effectuation, on the other hand, is a more creative approach where entrepreneurs make more space for intuition and personal judgement. To do so, this study theorizes exit behavior (causal and effectual), thus proposing a typology according to the model of the exit decision-making process. The model is validated using the collected data. Although results show the predominance of « effectual » behaviours within the exit decision-making process, complementarity between both logics does exist. Exiting entrepreneurs use both rationality and creativity/intuition to make decisions, particularly during the decision-making process leading to the transmission of their business. They are often willing to make concessions and adapt in order to reach their goal. However, results also show that exiting entrepreneurs have strong desires to things their own way, including the option of remaining active within their business. It is thus possible to state that there is more than one way to exit a business. Finally, the third article identifies a series of factors (individual, organizational, and environmental) as well as how such factors impact the decision-making process. This study reveals influence factors scarcely identified in exit literature, as well as associates determinants to specific process steps. As a whole, results support the necessity of adapting to individuals, the business structure and the environmental context. Originality – The angle used to make decisions, or the decision-making process, is a novel perspective that has been used to explain how SME managers decide to exit their business. The three articles at the heart of the thesis present different facets that help comprehend the phenomenon. Entrepreneurial exit is still emerging as a field of research and is mainly composed of quantitative studies. The qualitative method used here is not only original but also enriches both the field of entrepreneurial exit and entrepreneurial decision-making
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 26 April 2019
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/34577
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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