Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study was conducted to gain additional knowledge about the process of change as entrepreneurships in the oil industry grow and develop. Thirty independent operators comprised the sample. The owner/manager of each firm was questioned at length about the growth of his company. Particular attention was given to identifying the relative stage of development of each firm. This was determined by analyzing the strategic characteristics identified in the literature as descriptive of stages of development. The evidence seriously questions the applicability of the stages of development model for these companies. The data strongly suggests that growth is a more gradual process along a continuum rather than through a few distinct stages of development. No precise, clear-cut distinctions were found that could be used to divide the sample companies into readily identifiable stages of growth. A cluster analysis indicated that there were at least seven distinct groups of firms within the sample, but only general patterns of growth could be ascertained between them. A tentative process model of growth was developed to explain these general patterns of growth found. Growth of the sample companies did not appear to be either time or size dependent because it was not possible to identify any particular age or size when changes in development would occur. This research also found that organization structure was a fairly good predictor of overall development among independent oil operators. All of the more developed firms exhibited well-developed organization structures. In summary, the evidence gathered by this study suggests that there are only general patterns of development among independent operators in the oil industry. These patterns cannot be equated to stages of development as described in the literature. The process of growth in this industry is apparently more complex than stages models suggest.