Founders in the Living-Dead Trap: A Theoretical Exploration at Entrepreneurship’s Dark Core

Casas, T., & Hilb, M. (2016). Founders in the Living-Dead Trap: A Theoretical Exploration at Entrepreneurship’s Dark Core, Entrepreneurship Research Journal, 6(4), 401-423. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/erj-2015-0029

Posted: 8 Mar 2021

See all articles by Tomas Casas

Tomas Casas

University of St. Gallen - SoM: School of Management

Michael Hilb

University of St. Gallen; University of Fribourg

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

This paper explores the concept of the living-dead trap (LDT), a pervasive state of entrepreneurship resulting from the decision to persevere in the operation of a venture in the face of sustained financial underperformance and personal psychological disutility. Financially underperforming firms can survive for long periods, usually with injections of sweat equity and debt, often decimating in the process the capital of their founders and investors as well as the obligations incurred to employees and other creditors. More specifi-cally, this paper suggests a personal composite of specific cognitive and affec-tive processes that leads entrepreneurs to commit to “failing but not failed” projects. That is, to fall into a trap known as the living-dead trap. We posit the living-dead phenomenon as a most pervasive state in firm founding drawing on cognitive and affective perspectives to model the attendant decision-making processes.

Keywords: living-dead founders, under-performance, perseverance, entrepreneurial behavior, cognitive perspective, behavioral trap

Suggested Citation

Casas, Tomas and Hilb, Michael and Hilb, Michael, Founders in the Living-Dead Trap: A Theoretical Exploration at Entrepreneurship’s Dark Core (2016). Casas, T., & Hilb, M. (2016). Founders in the Living-Dead Trap: A Theoretical Exploration at Entrepreneurship’s Dark Core, Entrepreneurship Research Journal, 6(4), 401-423. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/erj-2015-0029, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3763530

Tomas Casas (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen - SoM: School of Management ( email )

Dufourstrasse 40a
St. Gallen, CH-9000
Switzerland

Michael Hilb

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Dufourstrasse 50
St. Gallen, CH-9000
Switzerland

University of Fribourg ( email )

Avenue de l'Europe 20
Fribourg, CH-1700
Switzerland

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