Abstract

Principal Topic Most entrepreneurial efforts eventually fail. Research on how actors deal with failure has typically drawn on attribution theory. Overall, this research has shown that individuals’ perceptions and attributions of the root cause of failure influence their post-failure emotions, expectations, and subsequent behaviors. While we acknowledge that starting a new venture in a new industry is one possible pathway for entrepreneurs who experience failure, we know other outcomes are also possible, including venturing in the same industry or ending one’s entrepreneurship career altogether. When considering these diverse responses to failure and the role of attribution in shaping these responses, we reviewed the literature on both entrepreneurship and attribution theory and found that there are no clear explanations for why and how attributions shape individuals’ interpretations of failure and their subsequent actions. We explored two general research questions: how do entrepreneurs attribute failure differently, and how do those attributions influence their subsequent venturing actions?

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