Self-actualization is a concept used in the entrepreneurship literature, though it is not necessarily specific to entrepreneurs. Turkina et al. (2013) find self-actualization to have a significant positive effect on opportunity entrepreneurship. Many studies indicate that growth-oriented entrepreneurship is a strong vehicle for self-actualization since it often provides more room for self-expression, achievement, creativity and innovation, as well as higher financial gains than salaried employment, which usually requires people to conform to existing organizational rules, frames and structures (Tamvada, 2010; Blanchflower and Oswald, 1998; Carland et al., 1995). Additionally, Hitt et al. (2011) discussed how starting a new venture and operating it successfully likely satisfies several of the entrepreneur’s needs, including self-actualization. Finally, Watchravesringkan et al. (2013) find that self-actualization as a value significantly influenced attitudes, which, in turn, influenced entrepreneurial career intentions.
Work on the role and influence of founder identity on the entrepreneurial process and outcomes is in the relatively early stages of exploration (Fauchart and Gruber, 2011: 954; Navis and Glynn, 2011). As posited by Fauchart & Gruber (2011), founding a new venture is an act “infused with meaning” as it is “an expression of an individual’s identity, or self-concept” (935). Further, Hoang et al (2007) proposed a model showing how founders’ initial role conceptions, feedback they received during the founding process, and their consequent persistence explain the variation in how founders imprint their organizations. Recent work has identified three types of founder identities proposed by Fauchart and Gruber (2011): Darwinian (focused on financial success), Communitarian (focused on contributing to customer communities), or Missionary (focused on being an agent for change). These identities can generate different approaches to entrepreneurial decisions, such as what market segments to serve, customer needs to address, and capabilities and/or resources to deploy.
Taken together, the purpose of this study is to investigate self-actualization in predicting entrepreneurial identity, two factors rarely examined together. As such, this study may shed light of the role of self-actualization in understanding entrepreneurial identity as well as entrepreneurial intent.