“Opportunity Pursuit, Disinhibition, & Social Bias: Advancing Beyond Individual Action”

The perception, pursuit, and exploitation of opportunity are central to entrepreneurship. While relatively unfettered cognition, impulse, and behavior may favor perceiving and acting on opportunities, such disinhibition may present a social liability and thus interfere with reaching opportunity exploitation. This research examines the connection between disinhibition and nascent opportunity pursuit. Drawing on psychological and entrepreneurial literature, this work tests hypotheses related to the effects of disinhibition in a nascent entrepreneur on other individuals. The results shed light on an important tension at the heart of early stage entrepreneurship. Specifically, apparent disinhibition in a potential founder has sizable adverse effects on others’ assessments: of the founder, of the likelihood of venture success, and of interest in supporting (joining) the venture. These findings indicate that an individual factor impelling individual entrepreneurial action presents a friction for advancing in the entrepreneurial process. This research makes several contributions to existing literature. In relation to entrepreneurship, it contributes needed insight into the social psychology of nascent opportunity pursuit. In relation to the psychological sciences, it provides vocationally contextualized insight into disinhibition and social cognition. Lastly, the research contributes to a developing disinhibition perspective of entrepreneurial action.

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Academy of Management Proceedings
Lerner Daniel
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