Special Issue


SI: Entrepreneurship & Well-being

The guest editors invite papers for consideration for publication in the Journal of Business Venturing for a special issue on the topic “Entrepreneurship & Wellbeing.”

SEE ORIGINAL CALL FOR PAPERS [download here] [JBV website]

Entrepreneurship is a unique and challenging human endeavor. As a process of self-organizing, entrepreneurship is closely associated with wellbeing (Shir, 2015). Despite this realization, we still know very little about the relationship between entrepreneurship and wellbeing (Uy, Foo & Song, 2013). Most attempts to examine and conceptualize the link between entrepreneurship and wellbeing have been offered by economists. But indicators such as GDP, or household income, fall short of capturing many aspects of the good, flourishing life. Wellbeing is a multidimensional concept that covers a variety of human experiences and conditions (e.g., life satisfaction, positive affect, vitality, meaning, purpose, self-esteem, optimism, and positive engagement). These prominent themes in psychological research on wellbeing that have yet to make their way into entrepreneurship research (e.g., Diener, 1984; Ryff, 1989; Deci and Ryan, 2000; Keyes, 2002)

Wellbeing is not only an important individual phenomenon, it is also an important indication of socio-economic progress and constitutes an important social resource. Starting with the seminal work of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic and Social Progress in 2009, a variety of initiatives around the world have been launched that aim to provide a more complete picture of socio-economic progress. The OECD, for example, is now tracking “how life is going” in eleven distinct quality of life categories using both objective and subjective indicators of wellbeing.

Consequently, understanding which factors of the entrepreneurial process drive wellbeing may offer new and valuable insights, not only for researchers analyzing and working with entrepreneurship, but also for policy makers and for those analyzing and working with employees in large and established organizations, as well as for families and individuals who wish to get the most out of their lives. As Shepherd (2015) suggests, one of the most promising avenues for future entrepreneurship research will be where “the head engages the heart.”

The goal of this special issue is to encourage new interdisciplinary research between these two emerging fields. What can entrepreneurship researchers learn from wellbeing scholars and what can wellbeing scholars learn from the entrepreneurship literature?

Research topics suitable for the special issue include but are not limited to:

  1. Well-being dimensions. Well-being is a multi-dimensional concept, each with its own domains, that captures both objective and subjective aspects of the human experience. In considering this, we ask: How does entrepreneurship contribute to each of the various dimensions of well-being (i.e., to cognitive, affective, and psycho-physiologic experiences of well-being)? And in turn, what role does the different dimensions of well-being play in entrepreneurship?
  2. Connecting between-level to within-level variations. Whether entrepreneurship impacts individuals’ well-being is a different question than that of which mechanisms affect entrepreneurs’ well-being in entrepreneurial work settings. Do different entrepreneurs and different situational conditions lead to different well-being experiences along the entrepreneurial process? What are the underlying mechanism that can explain this relationship and how do they function?
  3. Entrepreneurial well-being. Previous research on the effects of well-being in the workplace has not identified context-specific experiences of well-being in entrepreneurship as distinguished from more general measures of well-being in work and life (cf., Diener et al., 1985; Warr et al., 1979). We believe there is reason to expect that the effects of context-specific experiences of well-being in entrepreneurship differ both in terms of accuracy and prediction from global measures of well-being (Shir, 2015). Thus, we promote researchers to utilize alternative and context-specific measures of well-being in entrepreneurship such as entrepreneurial satisfaction, meaning, purpose, thriving, and/or positive engagement.
  4. The dark side of well-being. Although many studies conducted in various fields and various cultural and national contexts indicate that well-being is associated with a wide range of benefits in life and work (Huppert, 2009; Kaplan et al., 2009; Keyes, 2010; Lyubomirsky et al., 2005), recent theory suggests that under certain conditions there may be limits to the positive impact of well-being experiences on entrepreneurial outcomes (Baron et al., 2012). We ask: Is there an upper limit to the benefits of positive affect in entrepreneurship beyond which it could impair effective psychological and behavioral functions? What are the interactive factors upon which a positive or negative impact is expected?
  5. The upside of our dark side. We also question the positive well-being view. What is the role of negative emotions and lower well-being for entrepreneurship? Does the darker side of human well-being has an upside when it comes to entrepreneurial outcomes? For example, how important is it to feel dissatisfied, afraid, anxious, and doubtful in entrepreneurship? Or is it crucial to experience the right balance of positive and negative well-being experiences for the best outcomes? And how these positive and negative well-being experiences influence short-term versus long-term processes, behaviors, and outcomes?
  6. Is it independence or is it freedom? Entrepreneurship entails a relative state of negative freedom (independence) from the usual employment hierarchy and individuals who act upon such state of freedom positively (autonomously). Thus whereas being free from limitations is valued in itself, entrepreneurship also allows one the freedom to pursue, organize and do things that would otherwise not be possible (Shir, 2015). In making this distinction we ask: What sort of freedoms are more important for well-being and what role entrepreneurs play in creating such freedoms, opportunities? Moreover, research in psychology points out that too much negative freedom (independence) can lead to decision paralysis and lower level of well-being. Is there an optimal amount of opportunity and choice for individual well-being?
  7. Judgmental and evaluative aspects. A large body of research in social psychology and economics suggests that human behavior is driven to a great extent by relative considerations (e.g., Michalos, 1986). The core idea behind these theories is that well-being results from a judgment-based cognitive process of comparison between current conditions (e.g., objective circumstances such as income) and some standard (e.g., aspiration) used for evaluation. But what are the standards involved in the judgments that entrepreneurs make in evaluating their well-being? We believe that careful considerations of these standards is crucial for investigating the effects of entrepreneurship on well-being as well as the antecedents of well-being in entrepreneurship.
  8. Longitudinal and causality concerns. Since well-being is partly determined by individuals’ genetic profiles and stable personality traits (Lykken and Tellegen, 1996), and in light of recent evidence that well-being is more than just a mere outcome but rather an important psychological resource (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005), it appears sensible to question whether the relationship between entrepreneurship and well-being is spurious or otherwise suffer from selection bias. To date, most previous research on the link between entrepreneurship and well-being has presented results based on correlational analyses. Thus, we believe that a longitudinal and systematic investigation into the dynamics of entrepreneurship and well-being remains desperately needed.
  9. Cross-national evidence. In recent years, we have seen an important advancement in cross-national research on the link between entrepreneurship and well-being. In particular, a recent global report conducted by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM 2013), which covers more than 50 countries, presents evidence in support of the entrepreneurship-life satisfaction hypothesis, indicating that entrepreneurs achieve long-lasting upward changes in life satisfaction compared to the average employee. At the same time, however, we know nothing on the cross-cultural variations in the broader phenomenon of well-being. In light of this we consider the emergence of new datasets that take into account both cross-cultural contingencies and the multi-dimensional nature of well-being to present an opportunity to explore the relationship between entrepreneurship and well-being in much broader, cross-cultural context.
  10. Entrepreneurial utility vs well-being. Another important topic concerns the relationship between utility and well-being in entrepreneurship. Evidently, the two concepts, although linked in understandable ways, are not one and the same concept; neither in the logical nor in the empirical sense (Shir, 2015). In view of this, we find it important to ask: Under what conditions, are entrepreneurs’ preferences linked with their experienced well-being? Given that well-being is a valuable end in entrepreneurship, does the effects of entrepreneurship on well-being result from conscious processes of decision making and utility maximization, or any other socio-psychological processes? How could we use data on entrepreneurs’ well-being to reveal inconsistent preferences?
  11. Other topics. We realize that the nexus of entrepreneurship and well-being offers a large pool of interesting and important questions to be asked and addressed. Thus, in addition to the questions listed above, we welcome papers that investigate other topics that fit the theme of the special issue. One such topic is the role of public policy. What is the main message, and is there a clear message, from the entrepreneurship-well-being literature to policy makers? Should entrepreneurs focus on improving happiness or should the focus be on eliminating unhappiness? In practice, what do we find?

Submission Guidelines

Manuscripts will be expected to provide new theoretical and/or empirical studies that will connect the emerging field of well-being to the frontiers of entrepreneurship research.

We encourage studies to respond to the following four core questions: (i) how entrepreneurship affects well-being; (ii) how well-being evolves along the process of new business creation; (iii) who benefits the most from entrepreneurship in terms of well-being; and (iv) how does well-being influence entrepreneurial behavior, venture outcomes, and the venture team and people who are important to the venture and the entrepreneur.

The deadline for submissions to the special issue is August 31, 2017.

Please submit papers online at and follow the submission guidelines for the Journal of Business Venturing at:


Baron, R. A., Hmieleski, K. M., & Henry, R. A. 2012. Entrepreneurs’ dispositional positive affect: The potential benefits–and potential costs–of being “up”. Journal of Business Venturing, 27(3): 310-324.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. 2000. The” what” and” why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological inquiry, 11(4): 227-268.

Diener, E. 1984. Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3): 542.

Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. 1985. The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of personality assessment, 49(1): 71-75.

Huppert, F. A. 2009. Psychological Well-being: Evidence Regarding its Causes and Consequences. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being, 1(2): 137-164.

Kaplan, S., Bradley, J. C., Luchman, J. N., & Haynes, D. 2009. On the role of positive and negative affectivity in job performance: a meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Applied psychology, 94(1): 162.

Keyes, C. L. 2002. The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of health and social behavior: 207-222.

Keyes, C. L. 2010. Flourishing: Wiley Online Library.

Lykken, D., & Tellegen, A. 1996. Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological science, 7(3): 186-189.

Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. 2005. The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6): 803.

Michalos, A. C. 1986. Job satisfaction, marital satisfaction, and the quality of life: A review and a preview. Research on the quality of life, 57: 83.

Ryff, C. D. 1989. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of personality and social psychology, 57(6): 1069.

Shir, N. 2015. Entrepreneurial Well-Being: The Payoff Structure of Business Creation. Stockholm School of Economics.

Uy, M.A., Foo, M.D., & Song, Z. 2013. Joint effects of prior start-up experience and coping strategies on entrepreneurs’ psychological well-being. Journal of Business Venturing, 28(5), 583-597.

Warr, P., Cook, J., & Wall, T. 1979. Scales for the measurement of some work attitudes and aspects of psychological well-being. Journal of occupational psychology, 52(2), 129-148.