First Advisor

James Strathman

Term of Graduation

Spring 2007

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Small business -- Oregon, Small business -- Washington (State), Entrepreneurship -- Oregon, Entrepreneurship -- Washington (State), Programs -- Oregon, Programs -- Washington (State)



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 341 pages)


New and small firms make two indispensable contributions to the American economy: they generate change and competition through market structure changes and they are an essential vehicle by which hundreds of thousands of individuals enter the economic mainstream of American society. Small business formation is hailed as the "engine for economic growth," contributing more than 60 percent of net new jobs in the United States. The central issue of this dissertation is to understand the extent to which entrepreneurs are helped by government agency programs in assembling resources that contribute to the performance of new firms.

This study develops a new conceptual model from which thirty firm performance variables are analyzed through factor analysis and multiple regression analysis to determine four predictive factors of firm performance: business expertise, growth drivers, opportunity stimulants and firm age. Public support agency (PSA) related factors of the conceptual model expected to be significant in the empirical model—PSA advisors, PSA information, PSA funds, PSA key industries and PSA economic development—were not found to be statistically significant. In exploring and characterizing how new firms and PSA programs interact, four typologies of the 62 entrepreneurs of Oregon and Southwest Washington were established using cluster analysis to conduct qualitative content analysis. The findings indicate that PSA programs marginally contribute financial assistance to the grooved performer cluster and non-financial assistance to struggling venturer and opportune educat clusters. Critical incident analysis was employed to examine key entrepreneurial network interactions using private and PSA contacts to acquire needed resources to advance firm formation. Representing less than 20 percent of key formation interactions, PSA financial programs benefited grooved performers, while struggling venturers received mostly advice and referrals to other programs. Chi-square values indicate that resources and the contributing networks are not independent of each other. Generalizability of the results is constrained by the sample size and the use of only surviving entrepreneurs as primary sources of contributions by PSA program.


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