Responses from Firm Failure – Attributions and emotions

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This study is a part of a larger context, a doctorial dissertation, and by that the overall ob-jective is to contribute to the main project not as much to make any final conclusions. In-stead the value lies within the issue to explore new, hopefully, valuable information within the issue of emotional response to bankruptcy that makes a contribution to the main project.

Conducting the study

Due to the limitations of earlier studies within the research field we will conduct a case study that gives us the possibility to seek new insights and we will therefore use an explora-tory study. Using the case study with an exploratory research gives us the possibility to find understanding of the emotions and their past experiences of the bankruptcy, since the case study approach is focusing on an understanding of the dynamics that are present within a single setting, in our case emotions involved with facing a bankruptcy (Eisenhardt, 1989). To create and find the emotions involved with a bankruptcy Adams and Schvaneveldt (1991) claimed that there needs to be flexibility in the exploratory study that in the begin-ning will be broad and as the work progresses the focus becomes narrower.
Defining the research question is the first step in the research study. The most important is to understand that research questions have both substance (What is my study about) and form (is my questions a “who”, “what”, “where”, “why” or “how” question) Yin (2003). Others mean that it is more important to look at the point of preceding discussion and that the form of question can provide an important clue in finding the correct research tool (Campbell, Daft and Hulin, 1982).
A case study is used as “a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investiga-tion of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence” (Robson, 1993, P.146). The data collection for case studies is used very widely and often used in combination; this may be interviews, observations, documen-tary analysis or questionnaires. According to Saunders, Lewis, Thornhill, (2007) when using a case study a good way is to use a triangulate sources of data, which refers to the use of different data collection techniques within our study to ensure that the data are telling you what you think they are telling you (Saunders, 2007). Since there are close to no prior research done in the field and the existing knowledge base is somewhat poor the existing theoretical framework does not provide us with the possibility to test certain hypothesis or develop our own theories. Instead we use different existing theories to be able to achieve an understanding of a social phenomenon that is complex by its nature, which generates an exploratory study approach and the need of collecting relevant data is therefore crucial (Yin, 2003). Due to these circumstances, a case study was chosen in order to make a quali-tative research with interviews of entrepreneurs. By choosing a specific amount of entre-preneurs instead of a wider amount of entrepreneurs our research became qualitative. When deciding to make a qualitative research (in-depth interview) we believed that this was the most efficient way to create a deep knowledge of the emotions involved with the bank-ruptcy. The reason is that a quantitative research approach by a survey through a question-naire would not have provided us with the in-depth empirical findings needed for making it possible to conduct the analysis (Yin, 2003).

Research Approach

When it comes to the decision whether to take an inductive or deductive approach for the study, the crucial issue is the nature of the research topic (Saunders, 2007). When a deductive approach deals with testing existing theories – data follow theory, the inductive one is building theory – theory would follow data (Saunders et. al, 2007). Where the deduc-tive approach needs theories to hold for true and is in need for prosperity of literature from which one can define a theoretical framework, the inductive approach is preferable when the existing literature is poor and the research area is somewhat new or somewhat unex-plored (Saunders et al., 2007). As mentioned the fact that this study concerns a so far rather unexplored research area with a small amount of existing literature the most appropriate thing was to work mainly inductively. This means that the generated data is analyzed and reflected upon what theoretical themes the data are suggesting (Saunders et al., 2007). Even though a creation of a new theory never where the purpose in this study, a mainly inductive approach is the most rewarding from the angle of the research question. And in accordance to Saunders et al. (2007) a combination of the both approaches many times can be seen as an advantage and that is the way this study was taken.


When making a study which requires qualitative data, it is of importance to work through the needs and to be careful when making the choices involved with the process. The key challenge was to find the right tools that provided us with the most appropriate material to work with, all in order to find the best way to answer the research question. This generated a semi-structured and in -depth interview approach that was considered as the most award-ing in accordance to our research question. The implementation of the interview concluded themes and questions that covered our research area (Saunders 2007). When conduct-ing the interviews the questions were constructed in a way which made it possible to vary them from interview to interview in order to gather as much data as possible. But it also generated the possibility to adapt the question in respect to the interviewed. It should be noted that it is important to have additional questions to create a basic structure and from there have varied questions that can create a good flow in the interview. In order to re-member the flow of the interview and return to the interview, the use of audio-recording is desirable. But also to take notes during the interviews in order to have a backup in case the audio-recording of some reason does not work, (Saunders, 2007).

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Case – Selection of the interviewed

A crucial part of a research project is to outline the frames in which the research is going to be conducted. We have been looking at what kind of study that was conducted by the use of non-standardized in-depth, face to face interviews to be able to fulfill the purpose. Next step was to state the case selection. The intention was to conduct at least 5 interviews with entrepreneurs that had gone through a bankruptcy approximately a year ago. To our help in selecting cases we have been working with affärsdata, a data base that contains information about companies in Sweden, both ongoing and wellbeing firms and firms that have been closed by one or another reason. The database is a reliable source of information and is updated on a daily basis. Here we can find information about firms that no longer is active and the reason why, for example due to bankruptcy, fusion or liquidation (Affärsdata).
In order to be able to fulfill our research purpose and before we started to work with the interviews we decided to get an overall picture of the research area, therefore we conducted interviews with a therapist and a consultant working with helping entrepreneurs throughout a bankruptcy. We thought that these interviews could enlighten us even more on the issue at hand. After the interviews it was quite clear that our first intention concerning the span of time might not be the best due to our research question. After the conducted interviews with Thomas and Sofie we believe and understand that it takes time to grasp the conse-quences of a bankruptcy. Their experience was that after a year the entrepreneur just started to wake up from the chock due to the bankruptcy. Another aspect is the financial consequences which can take more than a year to fully grasp, the consultant informed us about a client that after 5 years finally was brought up to court, and by then was truly con-vinced that he was done with the bankruptcy which was not the case. This achieved infor-mation was in accordance with Bird (1989) who talks about the recovery of entrepreneurial spirit which requires the entrepreneur to take responsibility which in turn requires a sense of control that appears first after a time. The loss of a firm involves emotions, triggers the same kind of feelings and takes as much time to heal like the loss of a loved one. Shapero looked at the time for re-enters to entrepreneurial activity and after his interactions with entrepreneurs he estimated a recovery time to as much as three years (Shapero, 1981).
In accordance to this (for us new knowledge) we decided to change the time span for our case selections. We decided to work with entrepreneurs that have filed for bankruptcy for over a year ago, depending on the situation and the possibility for access to the entrepre-neurs, we decided not to have a over age for the failure occasion instead we wanted to look at the single cases. Our intention was to select cases with companions that faced bank-ruptcy together, and with a couple that been running a business together, someone that has done a re- entry to entrepreneurship and to conduct an interview with someone that has done huge losses.
All in order to be able to compare the outcome of the interviews from different angles; are there any differences in emotional response in relation to how hard the fall was, how much the losses was or in relation to however they were alone or shared the fall with someone else.
A negative part of our chosen time aspect is an increased probability that the participants might have forgotten parts of the emotions involved right before and during the bankrupt-cy or how their family reacted in the immediate connection to the bankruptcy. We needed to have this in mind when analyzing the collected data, but we are convinced that the ad-vantages by changing the span of time over bridged the negative biases and provided us with the most suitable data and by that made it possible to fulfill our purpose.

1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem
1.3 Purpose
2 Frame of references 
2.1 Entrepreneurship
2.2 Failure
2.3 Response to Failure
2.4 Attribution
2.5 Emotions
2.6 Frames of References; a Summary
3 Research Questions
4 Method 
4.1 Conducting the study
4.2 Interviews
4.3 Data Analysis
5 Empirical findings 
5.1 Proceedings
5.2 Entrepreneurs
5.3 Summary of Empirical Findings
6 Analysis 
6.1 Factors attributed to failure
6.2 The entrepreneurs emotional responses
7 Conclusion
8 Discussion
Responses from Firm Failure – Attributions and emotions
8.1 Limitations
8.2 Future studies
9 References
Responses from F irm Failure

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