Historical and social aspirations: influence of SME key decision makers’ resilience, social skills and stress on attaining firm performance goals

Jenny Gibb*, Jonathan M. Scott, Stephen Teo, George Thien, Smita Singh, Marcus Ho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines how some specific psychological characteristics and stress levels of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) key decision-makers (founders/managers) (KDMs) influence firm goal attainment based on two firm aspiration types.

This study hypothesizes that perceived resilience, social skills (self-promotion, ingratiation, expressiveness, social adaptability), and stress of SME KDMs will differently influence firm performance goal achievement based on firm historical versus social aspirations. IBM AMOS v27 is used to test these hypotheses on survey data of 267 Australian SME KDMs.

The study reveals that KDMs’ perceived resilience, social skills and stress differentially impact the achievement of firm performance goals when selecting firm-level historical and social aspirations. Resilience and some specific social skills can even have a detrimental effect on achieving firm goals when applying historical and social aspirations. Historical aspirations are based on the firm’s performance history, while social aspirations are based on the performance of a reference group of competitor firms. The differences in the relationship between these characteristics and the two aspiration types are also explained. Furthermore, the study reveals the important role of perceived stress levels in achieving firm performance goals, using both aspiration types.

This study is the first to investigate how the perceived use of some specific psychological characteristics of SME KDMs influence the ability to meet firm performance goals based on the discretionary use of historical and social aspirations and the relationship between these aspiration types. In this context, the paper explains the reasons for the differences and similarities in their use. Thus, this study provides an important empirical contribution to research on the emergent domain of micro-foundational SME goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1414-1437
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research
Issue number6
Early online date22 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2022


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