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The wind beneath their wings: The moderating effects of social support on the entrepreneur and entrepreneurial performance outcomes

Lena Teresa Rodriguez, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Entrepreneurs are the cornerstone of the American economy. Their contributions bolster the economy, enrich the quality of life, and encourage innovation (Baumol, 1993; Birch, 1979). Due to this vital role in the economy, scholarly investigations have attempted to characterize and identify the ‘magic profile’ of the entrepreneur. Studies have examined individual differences, behaviors, and strategic processes in an effort to capture the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit. However, few studies have been successful in identifying factors that determine entrepreneurial success. ^ The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between individual differences and performance outcomes, and more specifically, the relationship of psychological hardiness to performance outcomes. A second objective was to examine the potential moderating effect of social support on the relationship between individual differences and performance outcomes. Six hundred and fifty surveys were mailed out in the Midwest and Western United States. Ideal participants were identified as those who had operated a venture that had been in existence for a period of seven years or more, owned 50% or more of the business, and took an active role in the organization's management. One hundred and sixteen surveys were returned with 109 providing usable responses. ^ The study produced several significant findings. First, an entrepreneurial based measure of social support was developed and tested. Second, individual differences such as need for achievement, tolerance of ambiguity, and locus of control did not show a significant relationship with performance outcomes. However, two dimensions of hardiness (commitment and challenge) showed a positive relationship with performance outcomes before and after controlling for external and internal risk. Finally, two dimensions of social support (appraisal and emotional) significantly moderated the relationship between psychological hardiness and performance outcomes. ^ These findings offer important insights that allow for a better understanding of the activities related to entrepreneurship. The implications of these results suggest that dispositional characteristics, needs, and situational influences affect the quality, provision, perception, and acceptance of support that is essential to providing the “wind beneath their wings”. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Business Administration, Management

Recommended Citation

Rodriguez, Lena Teresa, "The wind beneath their wings: The moderating effects of social support on the entrepreneur and entrepreneurial performance outcomes" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9977018.