Why Entrepreneurs Are Less, Not More, Stressed Out

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Entrepreneurs aren’t the stressed-out workaholics we imagine them to be. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of Management finds that they experience less stress than the average worker. Why? Because they are psychologically better equipped to handle stressful situations:

While creating and running new ventures, entrepreneurs are exposed to conditions known to generate high levels of stress (e.g., rapid change, unpredictable environments, work overload, personal responsibility for others). Thus, it has been assumed that they often experience intense stress. A markedly different possibility, Untitledhowever, is suggested by Attraction-Selection- Attrition (ASA) theory. This perspective suggests that persons who are attracted by, selected into, and persist in entrepreneurship may be relatively high in the capacity to tolerate or effectively manage stress. In contrast, persons who are relatively low in this capacity tend to exit from entrepreneurship either voluntarily or involuntarily. As a result, founding entrepreneurs as a group are predicted to experience low rather than high levels of stress while running new ventures. Results supported this reasoning: Founding entrepreneurs reported lower levels of stress when compared to participants in a large national survey of perceived stress. Additional findings indicate that entrepreneJOM_v38_72ppiRGB_150pixWurs’ relatively low levels of stress derive, at least in part, from high levels of psychological capital (a combination of self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience). Psychological capital was negatively related to stress, and stress, in turn, was negatively related to entrepreneurs’ subjective well-being. Furthermore, and also consistent with ASA theory, the stress-reducing effects of psychological capital were stronger for older than younger entrepreneurs.

Continue reading “Why Entrepreneurs Often Experience Low , Not High, Levels of Stress: The Joint Effects of Selection and Psychological Capital” by Robert A. Baron and Rebecca J. Franklin of Oklahoma State University and Keith M. Hmieleski of Texas Christian University, forthcoming in the Journal of Management and now available in the JOM OnlineFirst section. Read related research in the JOM Editor’s Choice Collections on entrepreneurship and work stress and health.

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