Entrepreneurship drives progress, innovation, growth, and prosperity. Passion, in turn, motivates and energizes people to pursue meaningful activities on a sustained basis. In following their passion and in interacting with their proximal environments, people build up competencies, knowledge, experience, and social relations, which may result in peak performance. When passion develops and relates to the creation, discovery and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities, entrepreneurial passion emerges. The current state of research shows that entrepreneurial passion is a source of motivation, inspiration, creativity, and perseverance. Moreover, passion determines people's cognition and behavior and positively impacts their development and success on personal and entrepreneurial levels. In the cultural and creative industries, entrepreneurship often begins from a passion for an artistic or creative work that is pursued as a hobby or leisure activity, which professionalizes over time. Thereby, passion for a creative or artistic activity can also create tensions between ideational and economic-organizational imperatives in entrepreneurial contexts. However, how, and why an artistic or creative passion develops into an entrepreneurial one and how it affects entrepreneurial success is uncharted territory. Hence, the aim of this dissertation is to investigate and explain the development of passion and its effect on entrepreneurial performance of creative people whose venturing ambitions are primarily driven by a non-entrepreneurial passion.
To this end, a total of four sequential studies were conducted. The first study identifies the current state of literature on entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative industries. The review elaborates the phenomenon of a non-entrepreneurial passion as central feature of creative industries entrepreneurship and outlines its potential for future research. The second study presents a review of the state of research on passion in the entrepreneurial context and develops a theory-based approach that explains how passion emerges, and how it can extend to entrepreneurship and lead to entrepreneurial performance. Thereby, the proposition arises that the interplay of all interests, activities and goals in a person's life has an impact on the development of passion and its performance potentials. Based on 11 semi- structured interviews with successful entrepreneurs whose life paths are characterized by passion for music, the third study follows this assumption and generates mental maps using the Conceptual Causal Mapping method. The results explain the development of real-life passion over time, its current constitution and embeddedness within the personal, social, and entrepreneurial life context and the relation of passion to performance. The empirical data support the theory-based propositions developed in the second study. Moreover, the results indicate that the existing scales of entrepreneurial passion for founding, inventing, and developing cannot fully and adequately capture the individual real-life constitution of passion. Based on the person-environment fit theory, the final study develops a model that substantiates the positive effects of life context fit on the currently measurable domains of entrepreneurial passion and performance. Life context fit is operationalized using personal project analysis and the hypotheses were tested on a sample of 406 creative entrepreneurs using partial least squares structural equation modeling. The results demonstrate the effect of life context fit on entrepreneurial passion and its successive translation into performance in four subsegments that can be classified as artepreneurs, culturepreneurs, creative entrepreneurs, and lifestyle entrepreneurs. However, contrary to expectations, the analyses also indicate that neither the life context fit, nor the domains of entrepreneurial passion have uniform positive outcomes. Rather, these relations occur with compounded positive and negative effects. These results are surprising as the extant literature has found nearly consistent positive outcomes of passion on performance. Post-hoc analyses reveal the varying constitutions of life contexts and the existence of previously unmeasurable domains of entrepreneurial passion for products, for people, and for a social cause among creative practitioners and help explaining the positive and negative combination effects in the segments.
Overall, this dissertation contributes to the cultural and creative industries literature, the state of research on passion in entrepreneurship and psychology, and the literature whose epistemological interest aim at capturing and explaining entrepreneurial contexts and environments. Findings reveal (a) the central importance, development, and impact of passion among creative and cultural entrepreneurs, (b) the influence of life context on passion and performance, and (c) the interplay of combined positive and adverse effects of the domains of entrepreneurial passion and their impact on entrepreneurial performance. This implies that future research needs to consider people's life context as an antecedent of passion, especially when performance is the dependent variable. Moreover, new theories are required to better explain how, why, and in what combinations passion negatively affects performance. Future research can start here by analyzing the relations between life context, passion, and performance in other contexts, settings, and industries and by contrasting them with the results of this dissertation. Finally, the findings also have practical implications for people who live a passion as a hobby that might trigger entrepreneurial intentions. They can use the studies to reflect on their passion and to explore potentials and hurdles of an enterprising endeavor. In entrepreneurship education, the mechanisms of passion can also be used to help young people in finding and developing a passionate interest and in becoming a successful entrepreneur.