The role of creativity in mediating the relationship between entrepreneurial passion and entrepreneurial alertness.

AutorCampos, Hector Montiel
CargoTexto en ingles - Ensayo

1 Introduction

Identifying entrepreneurial opportunities has been a key topic in the field of entrepreneurship (Busenitz, Plummer, Klotz, Shahzad, & Rhoads, 2014; Short, Ketchen, Shook, & Ireland, 2010), and its study has been linked to abilities and capabilities at an individual level (Ardichvili, Cardozo, & Ray, 2003; Gaglio & Katz, 2001; Shane, 2000; Shepherd, McMullen, & Jennings, 2007). The concept of entrepreneurial alertness has contributed to research on opportunity identification since through the development of this concept, a clearer explanation has been obtained as to why only some people are more aware of the information and changes that point towards a possible entrepreneurial opportunity (Tang, Kacmar & Busenitz, 2012). In spite of the relevance entrepreneurial alertness has, very little research has been carried out dealing with its antecedents (McCaffrey, 2013). Alertness requires a creative act, which may influence the further development and improvement of the entrepreneurial opportunity (Baron, 2004; Kirzner, 2009). However, creativity has not been empirically studied as an antecedent of entrepreneurial alertness.

Creativity is another key element in the beginning of the entrepreneurial process, since it contributes to the design of new products and services (Gielnik, Frese, Graf, & Kampschulte, 2012; Heinonen, Hytti, & Stenholm, 2011). Ward (2004, p. 174) commented that "novel and useful ideas are the lifeblood of entrepreneurship". However, the study of creativity has not been easy because many factors come into play (Baer, 2012). Within the entrepreneurial process, as suggested by Shane, Locke and Collins (2003), cognitive elements and people's abilities are insufficient, and as such, emotional aspects are required. One of the elements considered in this study as a precedent of creativity is affect, and specifically, entrepreneurial passion (Cardon, Gregoire, Stevens, & Patel, 2013).

This study seeks to contribute to the continuous efforts of research on opportunity identification, that is, a model that suggests the effect that two individual variables (entrepreneurial passion and creativity) have on entrepreneurial alertness. Specifically, the model suggests that the entrepreneurial passion of a person is related to creativity, and that this in turn is related to entrepreneurial alertness. Therefore, this study formulates three important contributions. First, the beginning of the entrepreneurial process is addressed by involving three individual variables. Second, empirical evidence is provided on the concepts of entrepreneurial passion and entrepreneurial alertness through the use of instruments recently developed by Cardon, Gregoire, Stevens and Patel (2013) and Tang, Kacmar and Busenitz (2012), respectively. Third, creativity is considered an intermediate variable in the entrepreneurial passion-alertness relationship.

We believe that the moderated mediation model stated here is useful to learn more about the beginnings of the entrepreneurial process. Therefore, in the following section, fundamental and empirical theories regarding this model are described in the review of literature and hypotheses are developed. Next, the methodology and main results that led us to testing hypotheses are presented. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of the results and contributions, as well as a proposal for future research.

2 Theoretical background and hypotheses

2.1 Entrepreneurial passion and creativity

A review of the available literature shows that affect is a key element in the business environment. Recently, the study of affect has been incorporated into the field of entrepreneurship due to its influence on the entrepreneurial process (Baron, 2008). However, a certain ambiguity subsists in terms of terminology. Some authors use affect and moods interchangeably (Forgas & Koch, 2013; Isen, 2008), while other authors differentiate affect, moods, and feelings. Davis (2009) mentions that affect can be seen as a higher order term which includes feelings, emotions and moods. On the other hand, Forgas (1995) states that moods are low intensity, confusing, relatively durable, and occur without a defined cause. Emotions are more intense, short-term, and generally have a defined cause. Affect, whether positive or negative, changes with the passing of time and influences people's thinking and behavior (Friedman & Foster, 2010).

Previous research has shown that the presence of positive affect in people increases the probability of developing their creative side (Baas, De Dreu, & Nijstad, 2008; Binnewies & Wornlein, 2011). Positive affect leads to greater creativity because it increases cognitive flexibility (De Dreu, Baas, & Nijstad, 2008; Fredrickson, 2001; Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005). Baas et al (2008)'s study reinforces this argument and states that this relationship is favored when combined with high levels of activation, for example, enthusiasm. Amabile, Barsade, Mueller and Staw (2005) find a linear relationship between positive affect and creativity: the greater the level of positive affect in a person, the more creative his or her performance is. Baron and Tang's (2011) research shows that a dynamic environment influences the relationship between positive affect and creativity. Along the same lines, Hayton and Cholakova (2012) mention that affect not only influences creativity through the generation of business ideas, it also influences the intent to improve them. However, evidence contradicting these results has also been found, and negative affect also stimulates creativity under certain circumstances (Bledow, Rosing & Frese, 2013; George & Zhou, 2002, 2007; Kaufmann, 2015; Kaufmann & Vosburg, 2002; Yang & Hung, 2015). Therefore, it is still impossible to generalize the relationship between positive affect and creativity.

Entrepreneurial passion is a positive affect that has been incorporated in recent years into the study of entrepreneurship (Cardon, 2008; Cardon, Wincent, Singh, & Drnovsek, 2009; Cardon, Foo, Shepherd, & Wiklund, 2012; Murnieks, Mosakowski, & Cardon, 2014). In general, Vallerand et al. (2003) define passion as "a strong inclination toward an activity that people like, that they find important, and in which they invest time and energy" (p. 757). In particular, Cardon, Wincent, Singh, and Drnovsek (2009) define entrepreneurial passion as "consciously accessible, intensely positive feelings experienced by engagement in entrepreneurial activities associated with roles that are meaningful and salient to the self-identity of the entrepreneur" (p. 517). According to the review of literature published by Chen, Liu and He (2015), passion can be theorized as a motivational hybrid involving an individual's positive affective experience and intense behavioral tendency to engage in, sustain, and identify with a given activity. Therefore, Cardon et al. (2013) mention that obtaining a general value of entrepreneurial passion is inconsistent since, by definition, the former should focus on a particular activity.

As far as we know, minimal research exists analyzing the existing relationship between entrepreneurial passion and creativity. Conceptually, Shane et al. (2003) proposed that passion facilitates entrepreneurial motivation, that is, opportunity recognition, idea development, and execution. Empirically, Liu, Chen and Yao (2011) find that passion mediates the effects of organizational autonomy support and individual autonomy orientation on employee work creativity. In the same perspective, Luh and Lu's (2012) work shows that harmonious passion is positively related to creative achievement. Cardon, Wincent, Singh and Drnovsek (2009) suggest that passion, and specifically passion for inventing, influences creative problem solving in such a way that people follow novel and creative courses of action. Similarly, Cardon et al. (2013) find a significant relationship between passion for inventing and creativity. According to all of these arguments, it seems that the passion a person has for inventing should significantly contribute to his/her creativity. In more formal terms, the following hypothesis may be stated as:

H1: The greater the individuals' entrepreneurial passion (i.e., passion for inventing), the greater their level of creativity.

2.2 Creativity and entrepreneurial alertness

One of the topics that has been significant in the field of entrepreneurship is the identification of entrepreneurial opportunities. Identifying an opportunity not only represents the beginning of the entrepreneurial process (Eckhardt & Shane, 2003), but also of the creative acts of the person who identifies the opportunity (Gielnik et ah, 2012). One of the theories that has contributed to the research on opportunity identification is the Israel Kirzner's theory of entrepreneurial alertness. Initially, Kirzner (1979) defines entrepreneurial alertness as "the ability to notice without searching opportunities that have hitherto been overlooked" (p. 48). In further research, Kirzner (1985) defines alertness as "a motivated propensity of man to formulate an image of the future" (p. 56). More recently, Kirzner (2009) mentions that entrepreneurial alertness involves a creative action which influences activities that will be performed in the future.

Kirzner (2009) recognizes that the goal of his work is not to identify the antecedents of alertness, but its consequences. However, there is research that has addressed antecedents of entrepreneurial alertness, including mental schemes or models that help interpreting information and make sense of it (Gaglio & Katz, 2001; Valliere, 2013), information availability (Minniti, 2004), knowledge (Fiet & Patel, 2008), and significant pattern recognition in complex events (Baron, 2006; Baron & Ensley, 2006). In spite of the fact that creativity has been linked to the initial discernment people make and which shows them the possible existence of an...

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