Abstract

Decisions about the (dis)continuance of underperforming ventures are critical because of the implications for owner-managers’ financial situations, social relationships, and psychological states. Existing research mainly focuses on the factors influencing the likelihood of (dis)continuance with an underperforming venture, with less attention given to owner-managers’ thinking about such decisions. To fill in this research gap, we examine the metaphors that owner-managers use to describe their decisions about underperforming ventures and the impact of two self-images— fear of failure as a vulnerable self-image and human capital and entrepreneurial self-efficacy as a competent self-image—on owner-managers’ use of metaphor. This research extends our knowledge of entrepreneurial persistence by uncovering owner-managers’ theories-in-use when deciding the future of underperforming ventures. It also furthers our knowledge about the role of self-image, especially fear of failure, in the entrepreneurial process.

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