During the last two decades, one of the main topics of my research has been the effect of new business formation on regional development. Thus, in accordance with the theme of this book, I will describe the process of my personal discovery in this field: how I became attracted to the topic, the colleagues and collaborators who made significant contributions, the dominant research questions over time, what did I find, and what followed from all of this. It is my hope that this description of my research process will make understandable why and how I did things. I believe it will provide some insight into the different stages of my research on entrepreneurship and growth that would not be possible to discover from simply reading individual papers. It is a personal story of an ongoing research process that provided explanations for important phenomena and, of course, gave rise to new questions. 2

I was born in the western part of Berlin (Germany) and spent the first forty years of my life in this exciting city. There were two entrepreneurs in my family. After the heavy destruction of World War II, my uncle Willy started a quite successful business as a scrap dealer. My father ran a business in the same industry but went bankrupt in the early 1960s when the economic environment deteriorated due to the erection of the Berlin Wall, which isolated West Berlin from its surroundings. He was dependently employed for the rest of his life – but always dreamed of running his own business again. The ruin of my father’s business significantly lowered our family’s standard of living, and we had to move into a much smaller apartment in a poorer quarter of the city where the quality of schooling was considerably lower. This experience, however, did not prevent two of my four brothers from becoming self-employed, thereby confirming empirical evidence on the intergenerational transmission of entrepreneurship. Perhaps my own interest in entrepreneurship as a research topic was in at least some way inspired by my family’s tendency toward self-employment, although the direction of my academic path was much more strongly influenced by peer effects generated by colleagues I met later in my life.