Can founder passion impact employee commitment?

The nature of employee commitment in an entrepreneurial firm differs based on how the founder behaves. Entrepreneurs might have a passion for inventing, and/or founding and/or developing the business. How an employee perceives the founder’s passions impacts how committed they are to the organization. Employee commitment is also affected by their understanding of firm goals, though to a lesser degree than their perceptions of leadership.

What you need to know:

Founders who demonstrate excitement about inventing and developing their business enhance employee commitment to their firm. Those who are passionate about founding activities tend to reduce employee engagement. Employees perceive these passions differently and change their behaviour at work accordingly.

More Details:

What did the researchers do?

Nicola Breugst, Anne Domurath, Holger Patzelt and Anja Klaukien joined forces to ask: How does an employee’s perception of entrepreneurial passion in their leader influence their commitment to the firm? The team drew on past research to develop a model linking founder behaviour with employee commitment. Three passions were identified in entrepreneurs:

  1. inventing- identifying, inventing and exploring new opportunities,
  2. developing – nurturing, growing and expanding the business and
  3. founding – establishing a venture and exploiting opportunities.

These were examined for their impact on both employee engagement and goal clarity. The model was tested with survey data from employees who worked closely with founders at new ventures operating within business incubators.

What did the researchers find?

When employees believe their founder is passionate for inventing or developing, they feel more positive at work and their level of commitment to the business increases. However, when they believe their leader is excited by founding, their commitment falls as they worry about the leader’s possible departure. The research suggests that employees base their perceptions on how the founder behaves when focused on any of inventing, founding the business or developing it.

Founders with a passion for developing focus on both the short and long term future of the business. This can translate into the founder emphasizing the communication of goals and their vision. Employees with this type of founder reported an increased understanding of goals and therefore, more positive feelings about the future of the business. Founders with a passion for inventing or founding do not influence their employees in the same positive way.

How can you use this research?

Entrepreneurs with a passion for either inventing or developing a new business can use this research to proactively communicate their passion to employees. This should lead to higher employee understanding and commitment.

Entrepreneurs with a passion for founding can use this research to determine if a co-founder is needed to support the development of the business and communicate goals with employees.

Want to know more?

Contact Anne Domurath

Article citation: Breugst, N., Domurath, A., Patzelt, H. & Klaukien, A. (2012). Perceptions of Entrepreneurial Passion and Employees’ Commitment to Entrepreneurial Ventures. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 36, 1, pp 171-192.

Megan Hall

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Megan Hall