Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

First Advisor

Karau, Steven


Personal value priorities, serving as guiding life principles in the lives of all individuals, are proposed to extend their broad influence to important decisions made by those in the early stages of the entrepreneurial process. The type of venture to create and the espoused personal motive offered for pursuing entrepreneurship were both hypothesized to reflect the nascent entrepreneurs’ personal value priorities. Drawing on Person-Entrepreneurship Fit Theory, values were proposed as key mechanisms inducing entrepreneur-venture fit. First, it was hypothesized that the prioritization of either social-focused or personal-focused values evokes preferences for social or for commercial entrepreneurship, respectively. Social and commercial entrepreneurship are distinguished by the mission of the business, with social ventures intending to primarily benefit others, and commercial or traditional ventures, the entrepreneur-owner. Next, hypotheses proposing associations between personal value priorities and the espoused reasons or motives offered for pursuing entrepreneurship were developed. It was expected that the influence of personal value priorities predisposes individuals to adopt value-congruent espoused motives for pursuing entrepreneurship, consistent with the logic of Value-Behavior Consistency Models. Next, Role Congruity Theory was also applied to examine gender as it relates to values, venture mission preferences, and the espoused motives for nascent entrepreneur venturing. It was hypothesized that females will indicate elevated preferences for social entrepreneurship, relative to males, as a result of societal female gender role expectations which prescribe communal roles to females. A hallmark of communal roles includes the clear presence of an elevated interest in both caring for others and concern for others’ well-being. The role requirements of social entrepreneurs overlap with the communal role, thus females were expected to perceive increased societal pressure to assume the role of social entrepreneur and are expected to be looked upon favorably by society when doing so. On the other hand, the male gender role, associated with agentic behavior, overlaps with the role requirements of a traditional or commercial entrepreneur. Espoused motive and value priority gender differences were also examined.U.S. Midwesterners intending to become entrepreneurs were recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk to take self-report, computer-administered surveys. Previously published and validated scales were administered, including the most recent Schwartz values survey and motives measures based on the work of Carter et al. (2003). A one-week time-lag was utilized when collecting data, with all data except for the values measures collected at time one. Personal values data were collected at time two. Hierarchical regressions, correlations, t-tests and MANOVA were used to test the hypotheses. Analyses revealed that gender impacts preferences for social and commercial entrepreneurship, such that females indicate elevated preferences for social entrepreneurship and males, for commercial entrepreneurship. Values and espoused motives largely correlated as expected. Finally, social focused and personal focused value priorities were not found to predict preferences for social or commercial entrepreneurship. Gender differences in espoused motives were not observed. The study contributes to Person-Entrepreneurship Fit Theory, Value-Behavior Consistency Models and Role Congruity Theory and suggests that basic human values do indeed influence entrepreneurship.

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