Small Business Owners' Success Criteria, a Values Approach to Personal Differences

By Gorgievski, Marjan J.; Ascalon, M. Evelina et al. | Journal of Small Business Management, April 2011 | Go to article overview

Small Business Owners' Success Criteria, a Values Approach to Personal Differences


Gorgievski, Marjan J., Ascalon, M. Evelina, Stephan, Ute, Journal of Small Business Management


This study of 150 Dutch small business owners, identified through business/network directories, investigated relationships between owners' understanding of success and their personal values. Business owners ranked 10 success criteria. Personal satisfaction, profitability, and satisfied stakeholders ranked highest. Multidimensional scaling techniques revealed two dimensions underlying the rank order of success criteria: person-oriented (personal satisfaction versus business growth) and business-oriented (profitability versus contributing back to society),Furthermore, business growth, profitability, and innovativeness were guided by self-enhancing value orientations (power and achievement). Softer success criteria, such as having satisfied stakeholders and a good work-life balance, were guided by self-transcendent value orientations (benevolence and universalism).

Introduction

The acquisition of wealth, recognition, and growth has been considered the normative criteria by which business owners have been judged to be successful for the past decades (cf. Julien 1998; Littunen 2000; Wang et al. 2004). This has greatly influenced research and theorizing to date, but it remains unclear to what extent these criteria reflect the success criteria that business owners indeed apply to determine whether or not they are successful. Moreover, the underlying motivators for individual differences in evaluations of entrepreneurial success are still largely unknown.

Our objective is to contribute to small business and entrepreneurship research and education by providing a more comprehensive understanding of the way business owners evaluate success and business owners' personal values as its potential predictors. Current research and education emphasizes success criteria relating to technical aspects of management and finances with the goal of maximizing profit and growth (cf. Wilson 2004). However, building on a review of the literature (e.g., Adams and Sykes 2003; Bennett and Dann 2000; Littunen and Tohmo 2003; Paige and Littrell 2002), our study demonstrates that business owners also use other types of criteria to evaluate their success, for example, societal impact and personal satisfaction. The achievement and acceptance of such criteria are neither sufficiently researched nor instructed by entrepreneurship educators (Wilson 2004). This leaves a wide gap in the area of small business and entrepreneurship. A better understanding of the subjective success criteria that business owners use is important because owners who fail to fulfill their personal goals are more likely to close their businesses, even when those are profitable (e.g., Bates 2005). Understanding personal values as drivers behind business owners' choice of success criteria is equally important because it has inherent importance on the health, well-being, and financial success of business owners. Living in accordance to ones' values predicts long-term personal well-being and satisfaction, whereas a misfit between a person's values and choices leads to internal conflicts and distress in the long term (Bardi and Schwartz 2003). In turn, distress has been found to impair business owners' financial performance (e.g., Gorgievski-Duijvesteijn et al. 2010; Gorgievski-Duijvesteijn, Giesen, and Bakker, 2000).

Thus, the alignment of one's values with one's ideas of success has multiple benefits. Insight into business owners' objective and subjective success criteria and the way they align with one's values can be used to develop more valid methods to advise business owners on how to attain and sustain satisfying careers. First, individuals embarking on an entrepreneurial path can be guided toward a specific direction based on their values. Second, existing business owners can be taught to align their values and success criteria to achieve greater well-being.

This study has been carried out among Dutch small business owners. Dutch business owners are a good sample for studying the relationship between intrinsic motivational aspects and business goals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Small Business Owners' Success Criteria, a Values Approach to Personal Differences
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.