Entrepreneurial and Strategic Decision-making in the Face of Adversity




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Adversity and crises can unexpectedly strike both entrepreneurial and established firms. Responses to that adversity can mean the difference between survival and failure of the firms. This dissertation explores decision-making in the face of adversity in three contexts involving early-stage entrepreneurs, venture capitalist firms (VCs), and established firms. Chapter 1 uses a conjoint analysis to study how the way mentors provide feedback to entrepreneurs regarding the need to make a fundamental change to the venture and pivot affects whether the entrepreneurs will be more likely to follow that advice and pivot. Chapter 2 introduces the concept of threatdefiant learning, through which firms can learn to resist the temptation to become rigid in the face of crises, and instead respond defiantly. Threat-defiant learning is tested in the context of VCs’ decisions to continue to invest in entrepreneurial ventures that face the crisis of a lawsuit. Chapter 3 develops the concept of immoral entrenchment to explain why firms resist ethical behavior in the form of recalling products associated with consumer harm, even when the moral intensity of the situation is great. Overall, these papers contribute to the literature on crisis and adversity broadly, and to research on cognition, entrepreneurship, mentorship, ethics, crisis, and crisis management specifically.



Business Administration, Management