A Joint Programme of Friedrich Schiller University and the Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena
Wilfling 2012

"Bent Dalum PhD Award" for Sebastian Wilfling

Sebastian Wilfling won the “Bent Dalum PhD Award” for the most innovative and promising research project at the 2012 Druid-DIME Academy Conference in Cambridge, UK.

The paper "For whom the bell tolls - personality and various motives of entrepreneurial exit" investigates entrepreneurial exit, which is widely understudied. Particularly, research on entrepreneurial exit mainly recognizes economic factors that determine exit decisions. However, as Gimeno et al. (1997) claim that entrepreneurs at least rely in part on their psychological income when it comes to exit decisions, even non-economic forces may lead to exit. One very promising approach to explain entrepreneurial exit are the Big Five personality traits, consisting of conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, openness and neuroticism. So far, no study links the Big Five personality measure to various (even non-economic) exit motives. Therefore in this paper I pose the question: “Are the Big Five personality traits differently related to various exit motives?” I use a dataset consisting of 423 entrepreneurs from the German federal state of Thuringia from which 98 (co-) founders ceased their entrepreneurial activity. The results indicate that from the Big Five only neuroticism has a (negative) effect on the propensity to exit due to overinvestment. Moreover, exit because of problems with other founder team members negatively relates to agreeableness. And finally, I find that exit due to low job satisfaction positively relates to extraversion and neuroticism. The results imply that entrepreneurial exit is not only affected by economic considerations, but by other motives, like well being, relationships and risk taking preferences, too. Viewing strategic exit decisions only from the point of economic firm performance hence may fall short of tackling the issue of entrepreneurial exit.