Fear of failure as a mediator of the relationship between obstacles and nascent entrepreneurial activity — An experimental approach

Tobias Kollmann, Christoph Stöckmann, Julia M. Kensbock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present study introduces fear of failure as a responsive avoidance motive to the entrepreneurship literature and demonstrates its relevance as a psychological process in three experimental studies with nascent entrepreneurs. Drawing upon a social cognitive perspective on achievement motives, we show that fear of failure explains how obstacles encountered in the nascent phase affect individual entrepreneurial activity. We demonstrate that the perception of obstacles activates fear of failure, which, in turn, has a detrimental impact on opportunity evaluation and exploitation. Fear of failure's mediating effect generalizes across different samples and various obstacles (resource-oriented, market-oriented, and social-capital-oriented obstacles), and contributes to entrepreneurship research and practice by explaining individuals' decisions to withdraw from an entrepreneurial endeavor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-301
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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