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Columbia Business Monthly

A Grounded Theory Analysis On The Impact of Early-life Development on the Success of South Carolina Executives

Nov 10, 2021 11:59AM ● By Saanvi Merchant

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the amount of time an individual spends at home and invoked harsh economic conditions leading to a surge of start-up businesses and shifts in executive-level positions. South Carolina has not been immune to these shifts. 

South Carolina has seen a unique number of shifts in the business industry, including its cities being a frequent sight on the Surge Cities List, a nationwide publication of cities recognized for having equitable conditions for start-up businesses. As of December 2020, Greenville had the sixth-highest rate of business creation and start-ups in the nation. 

It should be noted that these start-ups have contributed to a positive economy, regardless of the pandemic, and have led to increased employment opportunities and business productivity.

However, many individuals who contribute to this surge in small businesses have little to no experience or education in executive management. 

These individuals also have not had the opportunity to undergo the business start-up process in South Carolina that vastly differs from that of the rest of the nation. Without these traditional prerequisites to a successful enterprise, the question arises whether these individuals and their businesses will be able to sustain themselves throughout the pandemic and beyond.

A survey of 57 South Carolina business executives show that key factors in the success of an individual relies heavily on childhood experience and upbringing. This is especially true when looking at the success of S.C. business executives in mindset, skills, and cognitive abilities, all developed at a young age.

This increase in the value of the property may concern prospective South Carolina business owners as property costs increase.

It should also be noted that South Carolina creates an overall welcoming atmosphere for potential business owners by providing multiple guides and directories, and offering statutory incentives, including having no state, local, inventory or wholesale taxes.

This not only encourages executives but elevates the state’s reputation as being business friendly. Also, cities such as Greenville and Charleston experience low energy costs and a lower cost of living than many other locations in the U.S., making these cities affordable for companies looking to maximize output while minimizing costs.

Bearing in mind such characteristics, understanding executive achievement in a specific state requires situating success within the state’s variables and data. This study acknowledges the characteristics of South Carolina’s business environment and accounts for variables that might hinder analysis and results.

This study focused on South Carolina executives who had gained recognition and awards for their leadership success.

In addition to using previous research and condensing broader relevant empirical studies, a questionnaire was developed to consider all aspects of childhood, including academics, parental involvement and economic situation.

Other questions were also created to assess business executives’ level of success. Such questions evaluated business strategies as well as average employee counts, both indicators of success. 

Based on results, a profile of successful executives in South Carolina looks like this: male, aged 55-66, with biological siblings, never moving locations, raised in an economically advantageous household, feeling attached to the female parent/guardian, and having expectations of excelling scholastically by earning all As and being in the top 10 percent of their class. 

The results obtained from this study can be applied to the general population of successful executives in South Carolina. Therefore, the data can be used to not only estimate the future success of executives based on childhood information but also be used as a predictor of future successful executives in South Carolina.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a paper Saanvi Merchant, a senior at J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, S.C., wrote for her Advanced Placement Research class.