Home Concepts Organizational Theory Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurial Professionals in Closely-Held Enterprises

Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurial Professionals in Closely-Held Enterprises

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What are the motives for most entrepreneurs? Do they go beyond the avoidance of regret, as the behavioral economists suggest? Do they rise above the minimal level (survival) or even the intermediate level (job security, compensation, safe working conditions)? For the successful professional entrepreneur who leads a closely-held enterprise there must be other key motivators. If the professional entrepreneur had been interested in job security or compensation, she would probably not have gotten her degree and license, and would have started work instead for a large corporation or government agency. Rather, the key motivators are often a sense of achievement (often mixed with a competitive spirit), the need for autonomy (often mixed with counter-dependency), the need for a creative outlet (often mixed with a desire to stand out in a crowd), and (using Maslow’s term) a desire for self-actualization. These motives are often difficult for an entrepreneur to articulate and are often not met in the short-run by specific activities or accomplishments.

The capacity and willingness of a professional entrepreneur to be clear about their fundamental motivations is important and inherent in the primary entrepreneurial challenge associated with this issue—this challenge being the ongoing planning of career by the entrepreneur. Clarity about motivation is important because the entrepreneur must frequently make decisions about the direction in which she wants her professional enterprise to move. She must decide if any potential move is aligned not only with the long term strategic roadmap of the enterprise, but also with her own fundamental reasons for being an entrepreneur and for holding this specific enterprise close to her heart. Quite often the entrepreneur “knows” when something is “right” or “wrong” in terms of her own interests and fundamental commitments, but will need assistance in articulating her motives.

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