Abstract

Success, often measured quantitatively with economic factors, is an enduring topic in entrepreneurship research. Seldom do studies ask entrepreneurs about success from their perspective. Entrepreneurs and their firms are closely connected, however; company development depends not only on anticipated economic consequences but also on how the business interacts with other areas of the founder’s life. It is useful to consider influences of individual motives and goals on the entrepreneurial process. We examine the entrepreneur’s view of success empirically and theoretically as a contextualized outcome based on the founders’ goals and motives, shaped by personal norms as well as professional norms. We explore three questions: Which contextual factors most affect the individual’s understanding of success? How do entrepreneurs’ own success definitions influence entrepreneurial intention, behavior, and company development? How should entrepreneurs’ definitions of success inform entrepreneurship research?

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