Impulsivity and entrepreneurial behavior

Entrepreneurial behavior is often depicted as results of calculated rational action and seen to arise from a reasoned, judgement of a strategic high IQ genius . An alternative model i.e., an unreasoned, impulse-driven pathway remains to be empirically explored. A recent paper “Impulsivity and entrepreneurial behaviour: Exploring an unreasoned pathway” by Michael L Pietersen and Melodi Botha explores the impulsivity dimension of entrepreneurial behavior.

Key Points

  1. A substantive ent-behaviors may also occur without ex-ante reasoning (Kautonen et al., 2015).
  2. Scholars have suggested that research positively linking impulsivity to EI and entrepreneurial behaviour indicates an unreasoned pathway (Hunt and Lerner, 2018; Wiklund, 2019)
  3. This paper adopt the view that while unreasoned entrepreneurial behaviour can arise from some impulsive purpose (e.g. attraction to a desirable opportunity stimulus) (Hofmann et al., 2009Lerner et al., 2018b) an individual is less likely to consciously plan to act (i.e. form EI) while disregarding the consequences (Warshaw and Davis, 1985). Rather, such unreasoned behaviour tends to be more unconscious and non-volitional in the sense that the behaviour is not governed by effortful deliberation that taxes executive functions and requires the explicit endorsement of a goal and the means for achieving it (Evans, 2008; Hofmann et al., 2009).
  4. The paper uses Whiteside and Lynam’s (2001) four-factor model. This model identifies four heterogeneous aetiologies of ‘impulsive-like behaviours’, including, sensation seeking, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance and urgency. (1) Sensation seeking is a proclivity for enjoying, being attracted to, and pursuing exciting, new and potentially risky experiences; (2) lack of premeditation entails limited deliberation and a disregard for the consequences of one’s actions; (3) lack of perseverance is an inability to ignore distracting stimuli and concentrate on uninteresting or tedious activities; and (4) urgency is a proclivity for experiencing intense negative affect (e.g. anxiety, fear) and acting to relieve that affect, despite the possible consequences (Whiteside and Lynam, 2001).
  5. While judgement-then-action models suggest the importance of gaining knowledge to overcome uncertainty and engage in entrepreneurial behaviour (McMullen and Shepherd, 2006), the results of the study suggest some merit to an unreasoned approach that disregards uncertainty, probabilities and issues of feasibility.
  6. Conclusion: The incorporation of an unreasoned perspective in theories of entrepreneurial behaviour has the potential to significantly advance the field, bringing it closer to the reality it seeks to explain. (Lerner et al. (2018b))

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