Beyond Achievement: Entrepreneurship as Extreme Experience
How do entrepreneurs experience entrepreneurship, and what are the implications? The cognitive and emotional experiences of the entrepreneur as he/she performs the tasks associated with venture creation and high growth have received limited attention from researchers. The entrepreneurial context can be characterized in terms of peaks and valleys, or periods of relatively high pressure, stress, uncertainty, and ambiguity and periods of relative stability and predictability. Three inter-related psychological variables are investigated to determine their applicability in an entrepreneurial context: peak performance, peak experience, and flow. Results are reported of a series of in-depth, structured interviews conducted with two samples of entrepreneurs. Both qualitative and quantitative evidence is provided of the relevance of all three variables to entrepreneurs, with the highest scores for each variable demonstrated by entrepreneurs in high growth ventures. A number of implications are drawn for ongoing research and entrepreneurial practice, most notably in the area of entrepreneurial motivation. The findings suggest that entrepreneurship be approached as a vehicle for optimal human experiencing. Copyright Springer 2006
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