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Remembering the Founder in Times of Ownership and Leadership Changes
University of Skövde, School of Business. University of Skövde, Enterprises for the Future. (Strategiskt entreprenörskap, Strategic Entrepreneurship (StrEnt))
University of Skövde, School of Business. University of Skövde, Enterprises for the Future. (Strategiskt entreprenörskap, Strategic Entrepreneurship (StrEnt))ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8337-3472
2016 (English)In: RENT Proceedings 2016, Antwerp, 2016Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]


Is a founder “leaving” an organization by selling it, or are there aspects of the founder left even though, the founder does not have a formal occupation or ownership in the organization?

What are the motives of a founder to sell his organization? Will there be a legacy of the founder and how will this affect the organization’s identity? By questioning ‘who were we?’ or ‘who have we been?’ the relevance of organizational history becomes apparent. But how does this work in practice when a founder is not any longer part of the dominant coalition of the organization?

The purpose is to understand the heritage of a founder, and the consequences for the organizational identity when the founder exits.

Prior Work

Drawing on the work of entrepreneurial exit and organizational identity, including imprinting, the work combines important literatures to shed light on an important empirical phenomenon, i.e. the exit of a founder/entrepreneur.



This study follows a single case study approach and draws on rich empirical material from semi-structured interviews and extensive archival data.



We show how central activities are affected by a founder’s heritage over long time after the formal exit has taken place. We illustrate this by analyzing the consequences of changes in ownership and leadership after the founder’s exit. The founder becomes an artefact which allows to signal continuity and discontinuity depending on the different owners’ perspectives.


Implications and Value

The paper aims at contributing to the entrepreneurial and founder exit-literature by adding a process perspective. Unlike it is sometimes assumed in the entrepreneurship literature is an exit not necessarily a clear-cut and once and for all decision. The paper contributes also to the organizational identity literature by highlighting the central role a founder can have for an organization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Antwerp, 2016.
Keyword [en]
Entrepreneurial founder exit, ownership and leadership change, organizational identity, founder heritage
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Humanities and Social sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-13153OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-13153DiVA: diva2:1050470
Research in Entrepreneurship and Small Business (RENT), Antwerp, Belgium, November 16-18, 2016
Available from: 2016-11-29 Created: 2016-11-29 Last updated: 2016-12-22

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