Amundsen versus Scott: are growth paths related to firm performance?

Alex Coad*, Sven Olov Daunfeldt, Daniel Halvarsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In the race to the South Pole, Roald Amundsen’s expedition covered an equal distance each day, irrespective of weather conditions, while Scott’s pace was erratic. Amundsen won the race and returned without loss of life, while Scott and his men died. In the context of firm growth, the Amundsen hypothesis suggests that smoother growth paths are associated with better performance in subsequent periods. We develop a new method to investigate how firms’ sales growth deviates from their long-run average growth path. Our baseline results suggest that growth path volatility is associated with higher growth of sales and profits, but also with higher exit rates. However, this result is driven by firms with negative growth rates. For positive-growth firms, volatility is negatively associated with both sales growth and survival, providing nuanced support for the Amundsen hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-610
Number of pages18
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Aug


  • Firm dynamics
  • Firm exit
  • Growth paths
  • Post-entry growth
  • Sales growth
  • Scale-up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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