Death is Not a Success: Reflections on Business Exit

17 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2012

Date Written: December 21, 2012


This paper is a critical evaluation of claims that business exits should not be seen as failures, on the grounds that sometimes they correspond to voluntary liquidations, or because they are learning opportunities. This can be seen as further evidence of bias affecting entrepreneurship research – where failures are repackaged as successes. We reiterate that the vast majority of business exits are unsuccessful. Drawing on ideas from the organizational life course, we suggest that business death is a suitable word for describing business closure. Even cases of voluntary ‘harvest liquidation’ such as retirement can meaningfully be described as business deaths.

Keywords: Business exit, failure, entrepreneurial exit, learning from failure, closure

Suggested Citation

Coad, Alex, Death is Not a Success: Reflections on Business Exit (December 21, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Alex Coad (Contact Author)

Waseda University ( email )

1-104 Totsukamachi, Shinjuku-ku
tokyo, 169-8050

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