Abstract

Managing a company is stressful (Boyd and Gumpert, 1983). However, few studies have investigated the occurrence of stress among entrepreneurs (Wincent and Örtqvist, 2006). Especially its effect on entrepreneurial decision-making has so far been neglected. We analyze entrepreneurs’ decision to exploit an opportunity (Choi and Shepherd, 2004) and investigate how job stress influences this decision. Since stress can cause hasty decision-making (Janis and Mann, 1977), we argue that entrepreneurs draw less on their knowledge of available resources when they experience stress, leading to a higher likelihood to exploit. However, individuals differ in their reaction to stress (Lazarus and Erikson, 1952) and stress can also decrease entrepreneurs’ motivation to exploit. We suggest that the personality trait fear of failure moderates the relationship of experienced stress on entrepreneurs’ exploitation decisions. We propose that fear of failure leads to a focus on possible negative outcomes (Elliot and Church, 1997) and additionally experienced stress can lead to a “flight-response” and a decreased likelihood to exploit.

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