Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

First Advisor

McKinley, William


The ecology based environmental perspective implicitly suggests that population level founding rates, dissolution rates, and density levels influence the likelihood that entrepreneurs will launch new ventures within a given population domain. The central idea is that population rates and densities may act as signals to entrepreneurs regarding the viability of a new venture within a given population. Interestingly, whether or not population level factors actually influence the new venture creation process remains an open question. As such, the central purpose of this research is to utilize a cognitive approach to better understand how population level conditions and the individual differences of fear of failure and general self-efficacy influence entrepreneurs decisions to engage in entrepreneurial action. This thesis proposes a model that integrates the population rates and entrepreneurial traits perspectives by focusing on entrepreneurs' hypothetical decisions to invest in entrepreneurial opportunities given differential levels of population factors. Because this research is focused on entrepreneurial decision making an experimental methodology using conjoint analysis was selected to test the theoretical model. Fifty seven experienced entrepreneurs participated in the conjoint experiment. Results revealed a significant main effect for founding rates, dissolution rates, and population density on the entrepreneur's decision to invest in an opportunity. Specifically, our results indicated that the entrepreneurs in our sample were more likely to invest in an opportunity when founding rates were high, dissolution rates were low, and density levels were low or moderate. We found limited support for the interaction of these variables. In terms of the individual difference variables, we found support for the influence of fear of failure, but no support for the effects of general self-efficacy on the investment decision. Specifically, entrepreneurs who indicated lower levels of fear of failure were more likely to invest in the opportunity, while differential levels of general self efficacy did not enhance or reduce the probability of opportunity investment in a significant way.




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