Abstract

Uncertainty can be both a potential source of opportunity and major stressor for entrepreneurs. The current study examines how new venture teams (NVTs) can maximize the benefits of uncertainty while minimizing its negative effects. Specifically, this research draws from the cognitive-relational theory of stress (Lazarus, 1991) to examine the moderating effects of shared humor and entrepreneurial team-efficacy within NVTs on the relationship between perceived environmental uncertainty and firm performance.

According to the cognitive-relational theory of stress, uncertainty is considered to be one of the most salient stressors faced by individuals and teams, particularly in situations where the stakes are high—such as in the development of new ventures (Baron, 1998). Two types of resources that are most effective for coping with such stressors are ones that promote feelings of positive affect (such as shared humor; Avolio et al., 1999) and ones that characterize a sense of domain- specific confidence (such as entrepreneurial team-efficacy; Stajkovic et al., 2009). Following this logic, it is predicted that shared humor and entrepreneurial team-efficacy will jointly moderate the relationship between environmental uncertainty and firm performance.

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