Project

ADHD and Entrepreneurship

Goal: Examining if those who display ADHD symptoms have stronger entrepreneurship preferences, are more likely to enter, and perform better than people without these symptoms.

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Isabella Hatak
added a research item
Recent studies have substantially enhanced our understanding of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in entrepreneurship—articulating the theoretical relevance of ADHD-type traits in entrepreneurship and confirming the positive linkages between ADHD symptoms/diagnosis and entrepreneurial intentions and behavior. However, how and why some people with ADHD symptoms run successful ventures, while other entrepreneurs fail to perform well, is still not well established. Our study builds on a Gestalt perspective that integrates person–environment fit and broaden-and-build theorizing, and proposes that strong positive emotions enable entrepreneurs with ADHD symptoms (at the subclinical level) to mitigate/reinforce the effect of ADHD’s trait-specific weaknesses/strengths to achieve entrepreneurial performance. Relying on fuzzy-set methodology, our findings indicate that for entrepreneurs with ADHD symptoms, entrepreneurial performance occurs when they simultaneously experience passion for founding and developing. This passion configuration is unique to successful ADHD-type entrepreneurs. As such, this study offers novel theoretical and empirical insights as well as implications for practitioners. Plain English Summary Do people with ADHD perform well in entrepreneurship? Our research shows how ADHD symptoms relate to entrepreneurial performance finding that passion is important. Entrepreneurs who are highly and thereby ambidextrously passionate for growing their businesses and for founding activities while lacking intense positive feelings for coming up with new ideas can benefit from ADHD. These results are important for people with ADHD and their loved ones.
Isabella Hatak
added a research item
The article presents a response to the commentary “Entrepreneurship and Contextual Definitions of Mental Disorders: Why Psychiatry Abandoned the Latter and Entrepreneurship Scholars May Want to Follow Suit” on the AMP symposium “Entrepreneurship and Mental Health.” We discuss and largely challenge the commentary’s criticism against the emerging research relating clinical psychology and mental health disorders (especially ADHD) to entrepreneurship. The aim of this response is to help scholars more clearly understand the relevance and challenges of including a (sub)clinical perspective on the study of entrepreneurial decisions, processes and outcomes.
Wei Yu
added a research item
Recently, scholars have started to investigate the relationship between ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) symptoms and entrepreneurship, finding that ADHD symptoms positively impact entrepreneurial intention and action. However, the performance implications of ADHD symptoms are still unknown. Using two samples of entrepreneurs from the United States and Spain, we find evidence that impulsive and hyperactive symptoms of ADHD are largely conducive to firm performance through entrepreneurial orientation (EO) while inattention symptoms are not. This suggests that the performance advantages of entrepreneurs’ ADHD symptoms can be derived from greater focus on innovation, proactiveness, and risk taking. We discuss the implications of our findings for the entrepreneurship literature.
Wei Yu
added a research item
Mental health issues are affecting not only families worldwide but also numerous family businesses. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the uniqueness of the family business may be a double-edged sword generating both benefits and drawbacks for business families dealing with mental disorders. Building on the socioemotional wealth (SEW) perspective of family business, the ABCX model of family coping and work-family interface literature, we develop a theoretical model to suggest how MDs interact with family and family business resources to influence the dynamics between families and their firms, and the outcomes from those dynamics. A research agenda is then proposed.
Daniel A. Lerner
added a research item
This article elaborates on a lively and rapidly evolving conversation central to entrepreneurship: the underpinnings of entrepreneurial action. In particular, we respond to a critique published in this journal by Brown, Packard, and Bylund (BPB), in which they argue that all EA is based on intendedly-rational judgment. The empirical reality of rational, deliberative intentionality in entrepreneurship is beyond dispute and we have argued that behavioral logics do not simply supplant intendedly-rational ones. However, mounting evidence suggests that the wide-spectrum framework developed by Lerner, Hunt and Dimov – ranging from impulse-driven, a-rational action to deeply deliberative, rational action – offers a more veridical and useful perspective. Although BPB's critique succeeds in underscoring the exciting challenges facing entrepreneurship scholars; in our view, the critique largely relies on philosophical argumentation and definitional boundary-setting that are inconsistent with decades of scientific advancement in the psychological sciences. Given this, and recent empirical evidence from entrepreneurship scholars, we think it would be counter-productive to consider entrepreneurship as the sole domain of human activity completely circumscribed by rational judgment.
Daniel A. Lerner
added 3 research items
A growing conversation has emerged linking ostensibly dark or pathological individual-level characteristics to entrepreneurship. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is among the most central and emblematic. Recent studies have made great strides—articulating the theoretical relevance of ADHD-type behavior in entrepreneurship and suggesting a positive link consistent with narratives in the popular press. However, quantitative studies have yet to empirically examine ADHD in line with its theoretical roots and definition—as a clinical disorder. The present paper contributes by providing a theoretically–empirically aligned test of the connection between the condition of ADHD and entrepreneurial intention and action. Based on a large-scale data collection effort (N = 9869) and cross-sectional methodology, the results find a positive connection between clinical ADHD and entrepreneurial intentions as well as entrepreneurial action. This grounds prior research on ADHD and entrepreneurship, indicating that individuals with ADHD are indeed more likely to not just espouse entrepreneurial intentions, but also to initiate business venturing. Considering the design, it suggests a self-selection toward entrepreneurship in individuals with ADHD (before potentially being a choice of last resort).
[forthcoming in Journal of Business Venturing Insights https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Y3k~8MxvtNisU] This article elaborates on a lively and rapidly evolving conversation central to entrepreneurship: the underpinnings of entrepreneurial action. In particular, we respond to a critique published in this journal by Brown, Packard, and Bylund (BPB), in which they argue that all EA is based on intendedly-rational judgment. The empirical reality of rational, deliberative intentionality in entrepreneurship is beyond dispute and we have argued that behavioral logics do not simply supplant intendedly-rational ones. However, mounting evidence suggests that the wide-spectrum framework developed by Lerner, Hunt and Dimov (2018) – ranging from impulse-driven, a-rational action to deeply deliberative, rational action – offers a more veridical and useful perspective. Although BPB’s critique succeeds in underscoring the exciting challenges facing entrepreneurship scholars; in our view, the critique largely relies on philosophical argumentation and definitional boundary-setting that are inconsistent with decades of scientific advancement in the psychological sciences. Given this, and recent empirical evidence from entrepreneurship scholars, we think it would be counter-productive to consider entrepreneurship as the sole domain of human activity completely circumscribed by rational judgment. *** Lerner, D., Hunt, R., & Dimov, D. (2018). Action! Moving Beyond the Intendedly-Rational Logics of Entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 33(1), 52-69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2017.10.002
Daniel A. Lerner
added an update
This paper is not specifically on ADHD, but is indeed related.
I hope and believe of apt to be of interest to those here.
"Deep roots? Behavioral Inhibition and Behavioral Activation System (BIS/BAS) sensitivity and entrepreneurship"
Now appearing online in Journal of Business Venturing Insights
See: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Wvkn8MxvtJunn [open access until June 8 2018],
 
Daniel A. Lerner
added a research item
Entrepreneurial action is central to entrepreneurship theory, and is broadly seen to arise as a consequence of intendedly rational logics (whether causal or effectual), reflecting reasoned judgment. But, is this always the case? While entrepreneurial action may often be the result of a judgmental decision (between alternative courses of action/inaction), the presumption that reasoned judgment encompasses all the motives, modes and mechanisms leading to entrepreneurial outcomes seems dubious. Building on an emerging literature that seeks to address the boundaries of reasoned entrepreneurial action, we develop the notion that non-deliberative impulse-driven behavioral logics can also be the basis for business venturing. Our framework offers a complementary perspective to the intendedly-rational, deliberate logics perspective, opening novel pathways for future research and theory-building.
Daniel A. Lerner
added a research item
Develops integrated perspective on the dualism of ADHD in entreprenurship, both across the extended entrepreneurial process and within particular stages/activites.
Holger Patzelt
added a research item
Mental disorders are prevalent, place considerable burden on the economy and lead to suffering for those with the disorders and their loved ones. However, there is a flipside. Evidence suggests that people with mental disorders can flourish and productively contribute to society through entrepreneurship. This paper explores the relationship between mental disorders and entrepreneurship. It builds a research agenda to propose that researchers explore the role of mental disorders in the entrepreneurial context. We show how such research will advance this new field of research, but also how it can develop novel insights and theories in entrepreneurship and contribute to theories on the psychology of work, career choice, and clinical psychology.
Daniel A. Lerner
added an update
Johan Wiklund
added a research item
Recently, entrepreneurship scholars have started to show interest in how " negative " traits associated with mental disorders such as ADHD may have positive implications in entrepreneur-ship. While this research has the potential of producing important and counter-intuitive results, it is still in its infancy and the causal mechanisms that drive those individuals to be attracted to entrepreneurship have received limited attention. Consequently, we draw on the person-environment fit literature and propose that individuals are attracted to, and engage in, entrepreneurship because the task environment of entrepreneurship which favors speed of action is aligned with the traits of those individuals. We develop and test a model which suggests that ADHD influences entrepreneurship through the multifaceted trait of impulsivity. We find that inattention is negatively but hyperactivity is positively associated with entrepre-neurship. We also find that sensation seeking and lack of premeditation generally positively influences entrepreneurship, whereas urgency has the opposite influence. Taken together, this suggests complex, multifaceted implications of ADHD and impulsivity in entrepreneurship. Theoretical implications of these findings are discussed. Research on entrepreneur personality has been mostly associated with positive traits, such as self-efficacy and achievement motivation. However, most traits are not universally positive or negative and what is functional or dysfunctional depends on context (Judge et al., 2009). Entre-preneurship is characterized by uncertainty, which indices anxiety, worry, procrastination and inaction among most people (McMullen and Shepherd, 2006; Paulus, 2007). However, it is also a vocation that grants more autonomy in terms of job design and task allocation, which may be attractive to individuals who need more leeway in designing their own tasks. Acknowledging the high uncertainty and autonomy in entrepreneurship, we argue that ADHD symptoms, which are associated with negative consequences in many areas of life, may have positive implications in the context of entrepreneurship because ADHD is characterized by traits such as sensation seeking, a focus on action with little premeditation, and a desire for autonomy. We employ person-environment fit theory (e.g., Holland, 1997) to argue that ADHD symptoms influence entrepreneurial preferences and behavior through the multi-dimensional traits of im-pulsivity. Specifically, ADHD symptoms are related to higher levels of sensation seeking, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance and urgency. These traits in turn influence the perceived attractiveness of entrepreneurship and the probability of starting a business. We conducted surveys on a sample of MBA alumni from a school that is consistently ranked as one of the top fifty public MBA programs, who by virtue of their degree tend to have viable job opportunities and were thus less likely to be pushed into entrepreneurship. We find that ADHD symptoms have a complicated relationship with entrepreneurial preferences and action, with the pathway through sensation seeking and lack of premeditation being mostly positive while the pathway through urgency being negative. Further, hyperactive symptoms seem to mainly result in positive outcomes while inattention symptoms lead to negative ones. Our findings demonstrate that entrepreneurship is indeed a unique area where negative traits, such as ADHD, may represent valuable assets. Previous research has mostly associated ADHD with negative job-related outcomes (Barkley et al., 2006). Our research indicates that certain aspects of ADHD symptoms, such as sensation seeking and lack of premeditation, could lead individuals to be attracted to entrepreneurship and to start their own businesses. This suggests a contextualized view of personality traits, as well as boundary conditions to existing theories. Second, we develop and empirically test a model that links ADHD symptoms to entrepreneur-ship through the multi-dimensional traits of impulsivity, which provides a more nuanced and theoretically interesting understanding of the ADHD—entrepreneurship relationship. The same can be said about our findings of the differential influences of inattention and hyperactivity symptoms. Thus, this paper contributes to previous research on ADHD and entrepreneurship that has mostly examined the bivariate relationship between the two (e.g., Veryheul et al., 2015; Thurik et al., 2016). Finally, our post-hoc analyses showed that the effects of ADHD symptoms on entrepreneurship are more pronounced under highly uncertain environments. This is consistent with our theorizing, suggesting that individuals with ADHD symptoms are more likely to harness advantages associated with ADHD rather than suffer from associated disadvantages in highly uncertain and dynamic environments such as entrepreneurship. There are at least two important practice implications of our results. First, our results imply that individuals with ADHD symptoms may be empowered to craft their own jobs to fit their special needs. Second, our findings suggest that people with ADHD symptoms and impul-sivity will tend to prefer action speed over action accuracy and that this may be functional in the context of entrepreneurship.
Johan Wiklund
added an update
This is a new publication that I just wrote. It is published in Journal of Business Venturing.
 
Johan Wiklund
added a research item
Impulsive individuals are attracted to uncertain contexts, such as entrepreneurship, and are more likely to act despite this uncertainty. Thus, impulsivity may represent an asset in entrepreneurship. This paper outlines a conceptual framework and develops detailed propositions for the multifaceted influence of impulsivity on entrepreneurial action. It moves beyond entrepreneurship as a deliberate cognitive process to sufficiently account for how uncertainty influences action. In so doing, this paper constitutes a counterweight to the extensive examinations of positive personal attributes in entrepreneurship research. It also suggests a context in which a common trait with strong negative connotations may be advantageous. Keywords: Impulsivity; entrepreneurship; uncertainty
Johan Wiklund
added an update
A new paper was published within the project. Will be uploaded shortly.
 
Johan Wiklund
added an update
Sign up for "ADHD and Entrepreneurship". A Personal Development Workshop (PDW) at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Atlanta. August 4th from 9:45 to 11:15AM. Details in the attached document.
Go to the AoM website to register. The registration code is: PDWVI8QF.
 
Johan Wiklund
added a research item
Paper presented at the 2014 Babson Conference linking mental disorders (specifically ADHD) to entrepreneurship using case studies
Johan Wiklund
added an update
ResearGate has this as their feature research project during November. Suggests it is the most interesting research on RG at the moment. I don't disagree! https://www.researchgate.net/blog/post/adhd-makes-for-better-entrepreneurs
 
Daniel A. Lerner
added an update
FYI: my paper published earlier this year in JBV () is very much about ADHD and Entrepreneurship. It is framed more broadly (disinhibition vs. pure ADHD), with the article and the supplemental Appendix elaborating on this.
 
Johan Wiklund
added an update
New Pub
 
Johan Wiklund
added an update
 
Johan Wiklund
added a project goal
Examining if those who display ADHD symptoms have stronger entrepreneurship preferences, are more likely to enter, and perform better than people without these symptoms.