Measuring Entrepreneurial Psychological Capital: Some Core Constructs

Peter Pease, James Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This working paper describes the ongoing development of a psychometric instrument, derived from both the entrepreneurship and personal psychological resources literatures, which aims to provide entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators with a useful tool to measure and inform the development of key psychological resources needed for entrepreneurial success; and add to the theoretical development of entrepreneurial psychological capital. The scope for developing this sub domain includes: firstly, deriving the theory from the broader entrepreneurship psychology literature rather than simply applying the organisation behaviour model of psychological capital to the entrepreneurial context; secondly, the scope to develop the theory based on the personal psychological resources model (Hobfoll, 1989, Hobfoll, 2002) which fits better with the state like qualities envisaged in psychological capital (Luthans et al., 2007); thirdly, the need to move the empirical studies beyond the United States; fourthly the need to examine the factor structure of psychological capital within the entrepreneurship domain; fifthly a more precise definition of what is meant by an entrepreneur in this context; and, sixthly the ability to study changes in psychological capital over time through longitudinal research.


We address relevant definitional issues in the entrepreneurship literature and review the growing literature on the application of psychological capital (Luthans, 2002, Luthans et al., 2007, Avey et al., 2011, Luthans et al., 2015) to the entrepreneurship domain. We contextualise the study in personal psychological resources theory (Hobfoll, 2002) and similar concepts in the entrepreneurship psychology literature. Building on Luthans et al. (2007) model of psychological capital we define entrepreneurial psychological capital as the personal psychological resources which entrepreneurs need to be successful.

Context / Practice Evidence Based Entrepreneurship

Frese et al. (2012)’s development of the idea of evidence based entrepreneurship (EBE) and well as the different conception of EBE developed by Blank (2012) provides the practice context. The model being developed will provide evidence about which psychological resources are important for different types of entrepreneurs and create a tool which entrepreneurs can use to manage their psychological journeys.


We have developed a methodology in which entrepreneurs have been involved in all stages of the development of the research and the development of the tools. As previously discussed, a challenge faced by entrepreneurship psychology research (Pease and Cunningham, 2016b) is the issue of covariance and the dearth of meaningful longitudinal research. To start to address this we have recruited participants on the basis of this being the first study in a longitudinal cohort study. The study is using exploratory techniques to see if the factor structure of psychological capital is different with entrepreneurs.


The research programme has been built on four overlapping stages involving two formal studies: a face validity study and content validity study. Stage one involved engaging with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from several different countries to ensure that the topics being investigated will be interesting to and useful for entrepreneurs. Those engaged have been consulted during further stages. Stage two involved deciding on constructs and developing the framework based on extensive literature review and further consultation with stage one participants to create a longlist of items for the tool. In stage three (face validity study) this tool was reviewed by entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship researchers and psychometrics experts from the different populations which the study will address and amended accordingly. Stage four (content validity study) is the ongoing multi-country study which will be analysed using exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis in accordance with Rust and Golombok (2009). A database of nearly 3000 early stage (<2 years) founders in countries where English is the official language has been developed and based on the response rates the database is being extended to ensure stratification with Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data for gender and age.(Kelley and Singer, 2016).


The results section is mainly concerned with the completed face validity study which has been invaluable in prioritising which constructs to include our model of entrepreneurial psychological capital.


The main contribution of this paper is that as well as allowing entrepreneurship scholars to gain a greater understanding of a personal psychological resources model of entrepreneurship it is hoped that this paper will inform entrepreneurship educators and nascent and early stage founders. Additionally, as the first stage in a planned longitudinal cohort study it is expected that over time this project will help to unpick the issue of covariance which has proved such a challenge for entrepreneurship psychology research.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2017
EventInstitute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2017: ‘Borders’, prosperity and entrepreneurial responses - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Nov 20179 Nov 2017


ConferenceInstitute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2017
Abbreviated titleISBE 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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