Chapter Listing | Return to 1997 Topical Index



Central to the personal characteristics studies that have predominated entrepreneurial research (Wortman, 1986) has been the question of why an entrepreneur assumes the personal, social, and financial risks associated with initiating a venture.  Two streams of thought have developed; one that intrinsic factors motivate some individuals, resulting in the pull theories, with considerations such as need for achievement (McClelland, 1961), internal locus of control; the belief that the outcome of events will be influenced by the individual's efforts (Rotter, 1966, Brockhaus, 1982), intentionality; the practical purposiveness of the individual's actions (Bird, 1988), risk-taking propensities (Slevin and Covin, 1992), and efficacy; the belief in the individual's capability to perform a task ( Boyd and Vozikis, 1994). The contrasting stream of thought maintains that negative situational factors result in some individuals being pushed into entrepreneurship.  Among the negative factors that have been advanced are conflicts at one's place of employment,  job loss (Olofsson et al., 1986), career setbacks (Gilad, 1986), and limited alternative opportunities (Greenberger and Sexton, 1988).  Empirical evidence supports both pull and push theories, (Gilad, 1986, Hisrich, 1988, Olofsson et al., 1986), while providing evidence that situational and economic factors are critical to both (Gilad, 1986).

This research was conducted in Hungary because the manifestations of push-motivation are comparatively high.  (51% cited economic necessity; Solymossy, (1996)).  A recent Inc magazine Survey indicates that fewer than 7% of the surveyed U.S. entrepreneurs were motivated by what would be classified as push-motivations (Inc, 1996).  In addition to the entrepreneurs themselves, government officials, and chambers of commerce representatives within Hungary all repeatedly referred to the frequency of the K'nyszer V'llalkoz, or entrepreneur of need.  The potential of having this reflected in a larger sample size offers analysis opportunity that does not exist elsewhere.  While this phenomena has been mentioned in discussions of push motivations (e.g. Olofsson et al. 1986, Brockhaus and Nord, 1979), the general attitude in literature seems to be  that survival motivated, self-employed businessmen do not epitomize superior performance and should not be considered as entrepreneurs (Acs, 1990; Acs et al., 1990).  In Hungary, its prevalence does not allow for exclusion, rather, encourages  investigation of the effect upon performance based on whether the venture was initiated by push or pull-motivation.  Initially, evidence of ?survival? motivation along with the recent 14.5% decrease in the number of registered small businesses (Central Statistical Office of Hungary and  Budapest Business Journal, 1996) provided intuitive support for the proposition that push-motivated entrepreneurs would be less successful than pull-motivated ones.   During the course of the research, it became apparent that rather than supporting the previous assumptions, evidence from Hungarian entrepreneurs challenges not only this assumption, but suggests that the entire question of venture-initiation motivation may be inappropriate.

While studies have identified and explored a variety of venture initiation motivations (Greenberger and Sexton, 1988; Hisrich, 1988, Naffziger, Hornsby and Kuratko, 1994) and considered their effects upon venture initiation (Gartner, 1984; Olofsson et al., 1986), there has been no empirical study focusing on the relationship between motivation and venture success.  Benjamin Gilad (1986) utilized an economic modeling of public data to test for entrepreneurial activity (measured by new businesses incorporated per capita) as being either pushed or pulled, however, did not include any measures that can be interpreted as success.  Early emphasis on entrepreneurs being independent, possessing a high need for achievement, a greater degree of internally oriented locus of control, and varying levels of risk tolerance have placed the focus on internal, pull motivations.  Implications of previous studies combined with intuitive reasoning leads one to tacitly accept the paradigm that a pull motivated entrepreneur will have greater success than one that is pushed by external factors, and that the relationship between motivation and success might be reasonably linear.

Top of page | Chapter Listing | Return to 1997 Topical Index

1997 Babson College All Rights Reserved
Last Updated 06/01/98