Dynamics in entrepreneurial decision-making and coping strategies, diary-based case analysis of resilience in early stage entrepreneurs as a developmental process

  • Aaron Michael Jensen

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Entrepreneurship scholars have highlighted the need to specify entrepreneurial performance dynamics. While a growing chorus of scholars have highlighted the developmental nature of the entrepreneurial process, details of how this process develops still need empirical elaboration. The thesis explores the role of entrepreneurs' decision-making and coping strategies as an emerging temporal experience. This thesis asks how capacities are developed by entrepreneurs to adapt and overcome adversity during venture creation. This research contributes much needed empirical elaboration to how entrepreneurial decision-making plays out through deliberation on factors relating to adversity facing their businesses. The study adduced longitudinal evidence from 108 diary-based accounts of participants' day-to-day experience and 12 in-depth qualitative interviews offering direct insight into the entrepreneurial process, drawn from six participating entrepreneurs over a three-month timeframe. The research adopted philosophical, epistemological and methodological rationales conducive to a dynamic and process-focused approach. This research employed a 'connected contributions' approach for conducting mixed methods research, which aimed for complementary assistance by combining the strengths from both qualitative (core) and quantitative (supplementary) methods. Within- and cross-case analysis reveal patterns for how unfolding business challenges were perceived and what resources were used to cope with chronic and acute challenges. These patterns were grouped under the categories of perceptions of external business context, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial effectuation. The thesis focuses on the micro-processual dynamics of decision-making and coping strategies with the aim of making conceptual contributions to the literature on entrepreneurial resilience. It also focuses on within-person drivers for continuity and change in entrepreneurial performance, with emphasis on links to subsequent failure experiences, learning and adaptation to adversity. Findings indicate that entrepreneurs developed decision biases, stress responses and coping strategies to reduce uncertainty within their businesses, regardless of emergent experiences with emotional, financial and relational impacts. Implications for entrepreneurs, pedagogy and future research are discussed, as well as the limitations of the thesis and avenues for further research.
Date of Award23 Sep 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorLucrezia Casulli (Supervisor) & Jonathan Levie (Supervisor)

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