Date of Award

12-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Applied Psychology

Committee Member

Dr. Cynthia L. S. Pury, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Fred S. Switzer, III

Committee Member

Dr. E. Erin Powell

Abstract

Courage is defined by Rate (2010) as an intentional behavior toward worthy goals involving risk. Previous research examining courage has emphasized the risk component of courage, but in large part neglected the worthy goals component. Furthermore, previous courage research has primarily examined courage as a prevention-focused behavior as a singular event. This study sought to explore courage as the pursuit of a promotion-focused goal over a long period of time. Specifically, this study examined courage in the context of starting a business. Latent/nascent entrepreneurs and actual entrepreneurs were interviewed to investigate courage and other constructs, including goal commitment and a novel concept called in this study, “the point of no return,” which seems to reflect a pivotal experience involving complete commitment to one’s goals and a heightened sense of self-efficacy. Specifically, this study compared differences between latent/nascent entrepreneurs and actual entrepreneurs regarding their perceptions of the importance of courage in starting a business, how committed they were to their entrepreneurial goals, and if they had experienced a point of no return related to starting a business. Results indicated that there was no significant difference between latent/nascent entrepreneurs and actual entrepreneurs regarding their perception of courage being important in starting a business; nearly every interviewee regarded courage as important in starting a business. Additionally, actual entrepreneurs reported significantly higher levels of commitment to their entrepreneurial goals than latent/nascent entrepreneurs. Lastly, actual entrepreneurs reported having experienced a point of no return significantly more often than did latent/nascent entrepreneurs. Limitations to this study and proposed future research is discussed.

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