Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: Entrepreneurial Identity Aspiration and the Role of Displacing Work Events

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Abstract

This study develops and tests a model of the transition from paid employment to entrepreneurship using a sample of 226 adults currently in paid employment. Building on a seminal but largely untested insight from Shapero (1975), we used theoretical logic from event system theory to propose that displacing work events moderate the effect of entrepreneurial identity aspirations, a possible-self role identity, on engagement in nascent entrepreneurial activities (discovery and exploitation behaviors). Results show that entrepreneurial identity aspirations were more strongly positively related to entrepreneurial discovery behaviors among employees who experienced a displacing work event in their current workplace; discovery behaviors in turn related to entrepreneurial exploitation behaviors. The moderation effect was significant for four of the six displacing events examined in this study. Our findings have implications for the literatures on entrepreneurial career transitions, entrepreneurial role identity, and event system theory and offer validity evidence for the nascent entrepreneurial behaviors scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology

Keywords

  • Displacing work events
  • Entrepreneurial careers
  • Entrepreneurial identity

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