The Role of Failure in the Entrepreneurial Process: A Systematic Literature Review

  •  Alessia Pisoni    
  •  Emanuele Aversa    
  •  Alberto Onetti    


Failure is a crucial event that can occur at any time during the entrepreneurial/start-up process. Understanding what influences the failure or survival of new ventures is increasingly attracting the interest of scholars, practitioners, and policymakers, mainly because of the role that startups play in innovation. Studying failure events presents a series of challenges that scholars should bear in mind when approaching this topic, starting from the definition of terms to the lack of data to analyze such events. The literature on business failures is scattered among different fields of research and lacks a comprehensive framework. We address this gap performing a systematic literature review. 74 papers focusing on new ventures’ failure have been reviewed and analyzed to identify the main causes of failure. In doing so, we identify four main categories of causes of new venture failure. Namely, I) resources, with a specific focus on human and financial capital; II) strategic/managerial decisions; III) product-related aspects; and IV) contextual/environmental-related issues. By providing an up-to-date systematization of recently published contributions on the topic, we aim to provide practical implications for entrepreneurs/practitioners and future research directions to researchers in the field.

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