Exploring success and failure in small firm business transfers
The main purpose of this dissertation is to identify the factors that explain success and failure in SME business transfers. Three key concepts have been defined in the research framework: firm resources, capabilities (of predecessor and successor) and (successor’s) strategic renewal. Altogether these three key concepts serve as predictors for the transfer outcomes: exit choice, transfer duration, obtained price, satisfaction and the post-transfer firm performance. Testing reveals that both firm resources and owner capabilities are of importance for exit choice. Results indicate further that especially “acquisition experience” and “years of ownership” predict the exit choice in well performing firms. In poorly performing firms, firm resources prevail as the predictors for exit choice. Most consistently, owner capabilities like “familiarity with the successor” and “flexibility” and not firm resources predict success during a transfer. The firm resource “succession planning” predicts only the level of satisfaction with the transfer. Regarding owner capabilities, a distinction is made between generic and specific human capital. Results indicate the importance of specific human capital (owner competencies and experience) rather than generic human capital (level of education). All types of renewal (i.e. product/market innovation, organizational change or a combination of the two) after succession show better post-transfer firm performance compared to no changes in the first two years.