The lingering living dead phenomenon: Distorting venture survival studies?
Despite the increased attention dedicated to research on the antecedents and determinants of new venture survival in entrepreneurship, defining and capturing survival as an outcome represents a challenge in quantitative studies. This paper creates awareness for ventures being inactive while still classified as surviving based on the data available. We describe this as the ‘living dead’ phenomenon, arguing that it yields potential effects on the empirical results of survival studies. Based on a systematic literature review, we find that this issue of inactivity has not been sufficiently considered in previous new venture survival studies. Based on a sample of 501 New Technology-Based Firms, we empirically illustrate that the classification of living dead ventures into either survived or failed can impact the factors determining survival. On this basis, we contribute to an understanding of the issue by defining the ‘living dead’ phenomenon and by proposing recommendations for research practice to solve this issue in survival studies, taking the data source, the period under investigation and the sample size into account.