Defense Date

Summer 7-7-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Specialization

Management

Department

Business Administration

Chair or Co-Chair

Dr. Kimberly Eddleston

Committee Member or Co-Chair

Dr. Torsten Pieper

Reader

Justin Webb

Abstract

Despite the proliferation of entrepreneurship centers, little is known about the reasons entrepreneurs appear reluctant to utilize their services. Although women are more likely than men to seek help in most settings, some research appears to suggest that this tendency may not apply to entrepreneurs. This is interesting given the financial underperformance of female-owned firms and research showing that entrepreneurship centers are effective and thereby lead to economic development. To better understand these issues, I propose and test a new conceptual framework of entrepreneurial help seeking that considers how entrepreneurs vary in their attitudes towards seeking professional help. In addition, I explore the influence of entrepreneurs’ gender on attitudinal differences, help-seeking behaviors, and entrepreneurial success. This research integrates three theoretical frameworks: the psychology of help-seeking, gender role congruity, and the theory of guided preparation as an entrepreneurial resource. The findings demonstrate that entrepreneurs’ gender influences their attitudes toward seeking assistance from entrepreneurship centers as well as their entrepreneurial success. In addition, entrepreneurs’ attitudes toward seeking assistance influence their utilization of assistance, which influences their subsequent entrepreneurial success.

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