On Firm Growth: The Role Of Penrosean Resources And Boundary Permeability

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises


Johan Wiklund


Firm Growth;Fungibility;New Ventures;Organizational Boundaries;Penrose;Resources


This dissertation seeks to understand the causes of stalled theoretical development on the distinct performance outcome of firm growth and offer solutions to overcome these research ills. Broadly, the problems and solutions identified fit into categories of theoretical, phenomenological and contextual. Theoretically, I elucidate the inappropriateness of a strict VRIN interpretation of resources to understand growth and seek to overcome this mismatch by explicating the Penrosean resource characteristic of fungibility as more suitable to explain firm growth. In an effort to capture contemporary growth phenomena, I recognize unaccounted for changes in the strategic pursuit of growth and incorporate the concepts of "accessing" mechanisms and boundary permeability. In doing so, I build theory that is more attuned to changing empirical realities regarding the utilization of external resources and that is cognizant of heterogeneous growth rates within firms rather than only across firms. Contextually, I diagnose unique factors facing new ventures in their boundary demarcation and growth decisions and seek to explain these contextual influences with novel curvilinear relationships and empirical testing. I hope that these efforts shed light on the incredibly complex phenomenon of firm growth and open the way for new theory dedicated exclusively to explaining firm growth.


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