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Are entrepreneurs really corporate rebels?


It’s very tempting to think of entrepreneurs as being the kind of organizational rebel that’s sick to death with how things are and sets off on their journey to changing the status quo.  It’s tempting to think of these people as being the antithesis of ‘organization man’ who wants little more than to be their own boss.

Is that vision matched by reality though?  A recent study suggests that most entrepreneurs are not the corporate rebels and misfits in the slightest.  Indeed, the research suggests that it is far more likely that it will be those who fit snugly into the corporate culture that will venture out onto their own, after they’ve weighed up the pros and cons of doing so of course.

The study, by researchers at Stanford and Chicago Universities, revealed that being a great cultural fit with your employer can often be a doubled edged sword.

“While it helps a person get ahead at their current job, it also means that it’s harder for them to find another job that rewards them as well as their current employer does. As a result, when well-matched individuals seek to get ahead, they are more likely to start their own business than they are to move to another employer.”

Suffice to say, this image is often something of a rose tainted one, with many thinking more of the successful (and wealthy) entrepreneurs than the many that fail to take off.  It’s fairly well established for instance, that freelancers tend to earn less on average than their salaried peers.

The hours required by fresh entrepreneurs to build up their business are also often considerable.  This is compounded by the frequent ignorance of the opportunities to progress within their own organizations.

The researchers point out that more should be done to encourage such people to stay within the fold, especially by providing them with avenues to explore and capitalize on the innovative ideas they might have.

“An employer might work harder to ensure that there are opportunities for high performers to innovate or advance within the firm so that they don’t feel like starting their own business is their only option to get ahead,” they suggest.

I’ve written previously about the attraction of things such as purpose and control to ones motivation, so providing such employees with an outlet for their ideas and a degree of control over how they pursue them may be all the incentive they need to stay on board.

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