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Do entrepreneurs really learn? Or do they just tell us that they do?

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This article examines the theory and evidence in support of entrepreneurial learning (EL), measured in terms of whether individuals have previously owned a business, and time since start-up. Under this theory, entrepreneurial performance is argued to be enhanced by EL which itself is enhanced by business experience. However, if business performance is strongly influenced by chance then evidence of EL will be difficult to identify. We test for EL using a large scale data set comprising 6671 new firms. We choose business survival over 3 years as our performance measure and then formulate three tests for EL. None of the three tests provide compelling evidence in support of EL.

I know entrepreneurs believe that we learn.

But we're only human, and humans rarely change.

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