The Self-Employment Process: A Discourse of Psychological Attributes and Entrepreneurial Socialization
This dissertation presents a discussion of the role of psychological attributes and entrepreneurial socialization in the self-employment process. Self-employment process is considered to involve four components; intentions, entry, success and persistence/ commitment. Burton, Sørensen, and Dobrev (20...
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|This dissertation presents a discussion of the role of psychological attributes and entrepreneurial socialization in the self-employment process. Self-employment process is considered to involve four components; intentions, entry, success and persistence/ commitment. Burton, Sørensen, and Dobrev (2016) noted that entrepreneurship research has primarily focused on founding new businesses or transitions into entrepreneurial roles as ends in themselves. They argue that this approach tends to ignore that entry and exit from entrepreneurship carries career transition connotations. By focusing on the self-employment process, the dissertation to some extend pays attention to the psychological and socialization factors that facilitate transition into self-employment as a feasible alternative to traditional salaried employment, as well as a path to avoid or get out of unemployment. Therefore, self-employment is presented in this dissertation as a path to achieving successful career life.
Research on protean career behaviors emphasizes that individuals should take more control over their career development process (Briscoe & Hall, 2006; Lent & Brown, 2013; Sullivan & Baruch, 2009). Particularly, the importance of flexibility in career choices and career paths is highlighted because careers are no longer systematic (Arnold, 2001; Baruch, 2004), hence individuals do not have to stick to their learned trades or to traditional organizational employment to achieve success. Rather career mobility, which involves frequent transitions to and from different career trades, has become common. Self-employment presents an opportunity for individuals to self-determinedly take charge of their career development. Not only because of autonomy at work, but it is the most available employment opportunity in most parts of the world, thanks to the constantly changing dynamics in the labor market. At the close of 2000s, the world plummeted into an economic and financial crisis that resulted into turbulence in the labor market. Job insecurity and unemployment increased to new record levels, which remain high to present day congruent to Reinhart and Rogoff's (2009) claim that prolonged unemployment crises often occur in the aftermaths of economic crises. Hence, self-employment has increasingly become an important career path in many countries. Moreover, entrepreneurship has also become an important contributor to economic growth and resilience facilitated by the movement from industrial to service-driven economies.
The studies presented in this dissertation explore a range of psychological and socialization factors that facilitate the processes of formation of intention to pursue a career in self-employment, actual entry into self-employment, success, as well as commitment to remain self-employed. Research often treats these components of the process as separate subjects. However, the experiences at each of these stages of the entrepreneurial process, from the careers perspective (Burton et al., 2016) have implications for remaining or exiting from the self-employment. Particularly, two patterns can be observed from this dissertation. First, the formation of self-employment intention and its association with self-employment entry. Second, entrepreneurial success and its implications for commitment to self-employment as a career path. The purpose of the dissertation was to establish the self-employment trajectory from development of intention to success and commitment. However, this is only possible in a very long period. Literature shows, for example, that the study of association between intention and entry alone is best predictable after 18 years (Schoon & Duckworth, 2012). Therefore, the present studies could not observe the entire trajectory. But rather pays attention to personal attributes and contexts proximal to the individual that shape the intention, movement into, success and commitment to self-employment career path. Particularly, the studies examine the role of psychological attributes including personality, cognitive styles, moral and cultural intelligences, psychological capital, and entrepreneurial attitudes. Concerning the contextual factors, attention is paid to entrepreneurial socialization processes comprising of entrepreneurship mentoring and culture. The culture question is addressed at both personal and national level.
Consequently, the manuscripts address four pertinent research questions. These questions are central to the understanding of the role of psychological and socialization factors in the self-employment process, and also understanding of self-employment as a career path, rather than just a means of establishing and managing businesses. The research questions are:
1. How do Protean attributes and socialization factors work together to influence readiness to go into business?
2. How does one’s cognitive attributes and cultural values affect intentions to make a career in self-employment?
3. What psychological attributes are necessary for the effectiveness of entrepreneurial mentoring in leading to higher self-employment intentions and entry?
4. What personal attributes and socialization factors are critical for the realization of different entrepreneurial outcomes?
These research questions have been answered with robust results presented in nine manuscripts. The first two manuscripts address research question one. Based on person-fit perspective, these manuscripts revealed that entrepreneurial intention is associated with protean attributes including personal initiative, flexibility, and career orientation. However, the effect of personal initiative and career orientation were only substantial among student samples, while the effect of flexibility was observed among graduates, and not among students.
Manuscripts #3 and #4 are dedicated to answering research question two. Results in these manuscripts show support for Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) but further indicate that there are possible interactions among antecedents of intention. Particularly the results indicate that locus of control (control beliefs) impact on self-employment intentions via entrepreneurial attitudes. Yet the direct and indirect effects were moderated by individualistic normative beliefs. In addition, results especially in Manuscript #3 reveal interactive effects of personal cultural and moral values (risk aversion and moral potency) and cognitive style on self-employment intention of unemployed young people. Individuals using adaptive cognitive style reported strong self-employment intentions. However, those using intuitive style also reported strong self-employment intention when risk aversion is low, and when moral potency is high.
Results presented in Manuscripts #5 and #6 answer research question three. Once again the interaction effects of entrepreneurial socialization (mentoring) and personal attributes (self-determination/ autonomy and psychological capital) on self-employment intentions were confirmed. Results of a longitudinal study (Manuscript #6) further support TPB demonstrating that individuals with higher entrepreneurial intentions were more likely to go into self-employment after graduating from university. However, cross-cultural differences were observed and are discussed.
Lastly, in regard to research question four; findings presented in Manuscripts #7 - #9 generally indicate that personal attributes, specifically psychological capital and behavioral cultural intelligence, were associated with both subjective and objective outcomes including psychological needs satisfaction, meaning in life, entrepreneurs’ job satisfaction, entrepreneurial performance and growth, as well as income. Satisfying the need for autonomy was also associated with other subjective outcomes. Moreover, most of these outcomes as well as psychological capital had substantial effect on one’s commitment to the self-employment career path.