Dissertation Investigates the Impact of Entrepreneurial Passion on Employees

Can entrepreneurial passion of company founders and CEOs be “contagious” and spread to employees? This theory is at the focus of a current research study conducted by Dr. Sylvia Hubner at the Chair of Research and Science Management together with co-authors Prof. Dr. Matthias Baum and Prof. Dr. Michael Frese with surprising results.

The study’s most important take-away: An entrepreneur’s passion can indeed “infect” employees and increase creativity, productivity and the emotional connection with their company. “Entrepreneurial passion” is defined as a positive experience of entrepreneurial activity paired with a positive self concept as an inventor and entrepreneur.

The study drew results from a pool of data collected in a field study with interviews featuring 152 entrepreneurs – predominantly from young companies and start-ups with a large degree of emotional engagement – as well as 203 employees, supplemented by a video experiment. As the data suggests, entrepreneurs are perceived as especially passionate when they display intense positive emotions or draw attention to their identity as entrepreneurial businesspeople.

One of the most surprising results: A business leader’s entrepreneurial passion exerts an especially positive influence on those employees who themselves have very little enthusiasm about entrepreneurial activity. Overall, the study provides a scientific explanation for the immense impact of charismatic leader personalities such as Apple’s Steve Jobs on an entire organization.

The study was conducted as part of Dr. Sylvia Hubner’s recent dissertation at Technical University Kaiserslautern under the title “How Entrepreneurs Develop and Influence Their Employees.”

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