Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Matthew Knight


Half of new small business startup establishments fail to survive the first 5 years of operation. New small business owners are concerned with competitiveness, as the failure rate increases for those establishments after the first 10 years. Grounded in Porter’s competitive advantage theory, the purpose of this multiple case study was to explore competitive strategies small business owners use to sustain their businesses beyond 5 years. Data were collected from semistructured interviews with owners and managers of three small businesses in the restaurant industry in a large metropolitan city in Texas and reviews of organizational documents. Data were analyzed using Yin’s five-step process. Three themes emerged: personalizing customer service, hiring talented employees, and operating at low cost. A key recommendation is for small business owners to build customer relationship strategies for personalizing customer service. Social change implications include the potential to sustain small restaurant businesses and create jobs to improve economic stability in communities and increase tax revenues for funding of schools and economic development, which could reduce poverty rates in local communities.

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