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.
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