Abstract

It is clear that given the potentially significant impacts of entrepreneurs’ ethically suspect behaviors (ESB), it is important (1) to understand their nature and (2) to identify what factors may promote or impede such behaviors. Taking a teleological view and focusing on those behaviors enacted by entrepreneurs in the service of their firm’s success and which also run counter to socially constructed structures, we conceptually define entrepreneurs’ ESB as those acts of omission or commission, by individuals acting in their entrepreneurial roles, which violate socially constructed normative, regulatory, and/or legal structures, on behalf of firm goals. Next, guided by an organizing framework suggested by research on organizational misconduct (Vaughan, 1999), and drawing on Anomie and Strain Theories (Durkheim, 1966; Merton, 1968), we propose that higher levels of environmental dynamism (H4), firm performance (H1), and relational social capital (H2) lower the level of ESB by entrepreneurs. Further, we highlight the critical role of firm performance by examining its intervening effect on the relationships between environmental dynamism (H5), relational social capital (H3) and ESB of entrepreneurs.

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