Death is not a success: Reflections on business exit

Alex Coad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


This article is a critical evaluation of claims that business exits should not be seen as failures, on the grounds that may constitute voluntary liquidation, or because they are learning opportunities. This can be seen as further evidence of bias affecting entrepreneurship research, where failures are repackaged as successes. This article reiterates that the majority of business exits are unsuccessful. Drawing on ideas from the organisational life course, it is suggested that business ‘death’ is a suitable term for describing business closure. Even cases of voluntary ‘harvest liquidation’ such as retirement can be meaningfully described as business deaths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-732
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Small Business Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 27
Externally publishedYes


  • business exit
  • closure
  • entrepreneurial exit
  • failure
  • learning from failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management


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