The role of exit from dissatisfaction in entrepreneurship

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Ramesh, Anusha, Business Administration - Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
Venkataraman, Sankaran, DA-Darden School, University of Virginia
Freeman, Edward, DA-Darden School, University of Virginia
Parmar, Bidhan, DA-Darden School, University of Virginia
Shepherd, Dean, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame

This dissertation consists of three papers that make the case for entrepreneurship as a mechanism of exit from dissatisfactory status quo situations. In the conceptual paper, I argue that entrepreneurs have a fundamental role in societal churn processes. In dissatisfactory status quos, Hirschman points out that we have three choices: exit, voice, and loyalty. However, I argue that choices to exit into are not automatically available and are a result of entrepreneurial action as individuals renegotiate or create alternatives to exit into. Then, I examine the relationship between dissatisfaction stemming from perceptions of injustice and intentions to become an entrepreneur. I show that perceptions of injustice, coupled with a lack of psychological attachment with existing structures pushes people to become entrepreneurs [empirical paper 1]. Finally, I connect dissatisfaction from exit to the opportunity construct that is central to the entrepreneurship literature and show that they complement each other [empirical paper 2]. I show that entrepreneurs typically frame their venture narratives as exit from dissatisfaction rather than the pursuit of opportunity and show that beginning with exit (vs. opportunity) leads to more concrete (vs. abstract) choices for action, fewer variations (vs. more) in terms of what to do, and more stakeholder engagement (vs. less). This dissertation contributes to the literature in entrepreneurship by arguing and showing that dissatisfaction is an important predictor of entrepreneurial intentions and that this construct complements the opportunity construct in the literature. I also contribute to the literatures in liberal political philosophy, economics, and voice in organization behavior by showing that the existence of entrepreneurial agency is central to their theorizations of exit, voice, and loyalty.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
entrerpeneurial decision making, exit, voice, and loyalty, entrepreneurial career choice
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