Entrepreneur Death and Startup Performance

Sascha O. Becker, Hans Hvide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How large is entrepreneurs’ personal importance to startups? We use the death of nearly 1,500 entrepreneurs as a source of exogenous variation, and find large and sustained negative effects on growth and profitability. For small startups, the effects go mainly via firm survival, while for larger startups the effects are mainly on firm growth. For larger startups, the mean effect on sales is about 60 percent. The effects appear to be driven by entrepreneur specialness rather than leadership transition; the effects of death of entrepreneur managers is economically and statistically stronger than the death of managers that are not entrepreneurs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Finance
Early online date22 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2021


  • credit constraints
  • entrepreneurship
  • Firm performance


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