Long-term entrepreneurial group development

This sub-project aims to explain how the initial constellation and relations of entrepreneurial groups endure, change and
dissolve over time. In an ambitious methodological design, two cohorts of entrepreneurial groups shall be tracked over two
decades in a large sample representative for the German business population. Following the example of early studies on inter-
locking directorates and industry networks, the proposed research project will manually build a data set from publicly available
data leveraging the advancement of online-supported crowdsourcing. One of the large German business registries (e.g. the
Hoppenstedt Registry) forms the universe from which a random sample of businesses will be selected that were founded in two
cohorts (e.g. 1993 or 1995) and are still in existence five years later. The business registry data allow for identification of the
entrepreneurial group (limited to owners, managers and board members) at the emergence of that business – regardless their
existence today. In mini-case studies publicly available, but highly spread and decentralized sources are individually consulted
in order to pool basic information about the composition of the entrepreneurial group, characteristics of and relationships between
their members, and characteristics of the organizations these groups attach to or detach from over time. These sources are currently
available online or have been preserved in Internet, economic and newspaper archives. They include entries in the official business
registry (Bundesanzeiger), as well as annual credit reform reports, articles in local newspaper, industry or business magazines,
who-is-who lists, entries in social media (xing and linked-in), company websites etc. This procedure suggests to oversample medium-
sized and large businesses as they are easier to track.

Although the data needed for each case are kept within reasonable bounds, the time needed to obtain this information exceeds the
capacity of a small research team. As these mini-case studies present an almost ideal teaching case for the use of document and archival
methods, a crowdsourcing approach engaging students can overcome this obstacle. In the framework of an online mini-case study
competition students receive a methodological introduction and are prompted with an exercise, which is at least one mini-case study
of an entrepreneurial group randomly drawn from the sample. Students will be gradually guided through the research process and
enter the gathered information in an online crowdsourcing-platform. Awards for the most detailed mini-case study and for the highest
number of accomplished mini-case studies shall increase the number of participants. The overall goal is to arrive at a number of 1.000
reliable cases for the analysis. All in all, this novel procedure intertwines ideas of crowdsourcing, online education as well as document
and archival methods.

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