Entrepreneurial Resilience – Protective Factors for Entrepreneurial Success in High-Risk Contexts

An entrepreneur’s exposure to risk and vulnerability is disproportionately high compared with other professions. Especially when confronted with professional crises or critical private life events, their entrepreneurial success can be severely endangered. Therefore, the question of how to strengthen entrepreneurial resilience in the face of adversity is of particular relevance for researchers and practitioners. The research project aims at shedding light on that question by examining protective factors for entrepreneurial success that can be built up preventively and cushion losses in case of crises.

Resilience is an increasingly popular, but still a rather unexplored concept in business research. It can be studied on an individual, organizational or eco-system level. In this research project we will focus on entrepreneurial resilience on the individual level. Entrepreneurial resilience represents a specific form of individual resilience that relates to the capacity of an entrepreneur to successfully cope with multiple risk factors significantly endangering entrepreneurial success (Di Bella 2014). Cognitive as well as behavioral components contribute to this persistence in the face of adversity. Further, specific extra-personal resources, which partly can be moderated by the entrepreneur, function as protectors in times of crisis.

Building on a theoretical model derived from an extensive interdisciplinary literature review, the project examines intra- and extra-personal factors of entrepreneurs that contribute to consistent competency in the face of entrepreneurial adversity. By means of qualitative interviews as well as a large-scale online survey, we will study critical developments and events endangering entrepreneurial success as well as the related outcome. Specified data on personality, behavioral and micro-social aspects will indicate factors that helped entrepreneurs in overcoming crises. Apart from the psychological capital, special attention will be drawn on network resources, e.g. friends, family, consultants.

The project aims at contributing to an increased understanding of the resilience concept in business contexts. It thereby paves the way for implementing effective resilience trainings in business education and consulting. Educators and consultants can potentially serve as resilience enablers by supporting individuals to grow their entrepreneurial protective portfolio ex-ante, thus prior to the actual risk exposition. 

Project members

  • Dr. Jessica Di Bella
  • Simone Bromma

Presentations at conferences and seminars

  • Di Bella, J. (2015). What is Resilience Really? Refining a Concept of Organizational Success in Times of Crises. Vortrag im Rahmen der Forschungskonferenz EGOS 2015, Athen.
  • Di Bella, J. (2015). Resilience Pedagogy in Entrepreneurship Education. Vortrag im Rahmen der Forschungskonferenz ECSB Conference 2015, Lüneburg.
  • Di Bella, J. (2015). Resilience and the Failed Individual. Beitrag im Rahmen der interdisziplinären Forschungskonferenz „The Failed Individual“, November 2015, Universität Mannheim.
  • Di Bella, J. (2014). Entrepreneurial Resilience in the Cases of Five Brothers. Vortrag im Rahmen des Forschungsseminars an der Beedie School of Business, August 2014, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.
  • Di Bella, J. (2011). Starting, Surviving and Flourishing: Resilience as a Key to Entrepreneurial Success – Evidence from an Entrepreneurial Family. Vortrag im Rahmen der Forschungskonferenz G-Forum 2011, Zürich.
  • Di Bella, J. (2011). Starting, Surviving and Flourishing in Challenging  Environments: Entrepreneurial Success Through Resilience? A Positive Approach. Vortrag im Rahmen der ICSB World Conference 2011, Stockholm.