Research by Alexander McKelvie, chair and associate professor in the department of entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises, and J. Michael Haynie, Barnes Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, examines why some entrepreneurs keep starting new businesses. Researchers looked at the underlying psychological processes that may motivate some entrepreneurs to repeatedly engage in new businesses, despite the possible risks to personal relationships and health.
The paper, titled "Habitual Entrepreneurs: Possible Cases of Behavioral Addition?" was published in the Journal of Business Venturing. Co-author was April Spivack (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh).
The researchers are some of the first to explore the psychological side of repeat entrepreneurship, including looking at some of the possible negative outcomes and impacts that might take place by repeatedly starting businesses. They found habitual entrepreneurs, those who launch multiple start-ups throughout their careers, display symptoms of behavioral addiction similar to other better-known behavioral addictions, such as gambling or internet usage. These symptoms include obsessive thoughts and withdrawal-engagement cycles, and suffering negative emotional outcomes, such as guilt, high levels of strain and negative physical health.
"Our research offers a potential psychological explanation for a potential 'dark side' of entrepreneurship," explained Dr. McKelvie. "Being an entrepreneur takes a psychological and emotional toll on people; it's not always what people think are positive outcome,s such as gaining fame, fortune, or self-fulfillment. The costs of these behavioral addictions are borne by families, communities and economies in the form of social services, health care and public benefits programs."
What's more, findings from clinical psychology suggest that if a person exhibits behavioral addition in one area, it's likely to cause other behavioral and/or substance addictions. The authors caution that although they have some preliminary evidence of such a behavioral addiction, more research is needed to further understand how this phenomenon may apply to all entrepreneurs.
Materials provided by Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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