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Title: Study of Emotions and Meta-cognitive skills of entrepreneurs in knowledge intensive industries
Abstract: The global phenomenon of growing entrepreneurial ventures within the knowledge intensive industries such as information technology, telecommunications, and biotechnology is spearheading a paradigm shift towards “knowledge driven economies”. This is attracting immense interest amongst various research fraternities to study the underlying factors of successful entrepreneurship within the knowledge intensive industries. One such area is behavioural and personality trait studies involving the meta-cognitive skills and emotions of entrepreneurs considered to be key attributes contributing to successful entrepreneurial ventures. This work of research aims to empirically study the independent and combinatorial effects of these two aspects on entrepreneurs in different knowledge intensive industries and establish relationships amongst meta-cognitive skills, emotions and entrepreneurial success.
Introduction and research literature
According to Low and MacMilan, entrepreneurship can be defined as “creation of new enterprise” and entrepreneurship research seeks to explain and facilitate the role of enterprise in furthering economic progress (Low and MacMilan, 1988). Creation of a new enterprise is very much an individual decision, which is why the individual’s qualities as an entrepreneur are the focus of many investigations in the field of entrepreneurship (Bird, 1989; Tibbits, 1979; Littunen, 2000). Among various personality traits studied, meta-cognitive skills and emotional stability of entrepreneurs have been largely ignored.
At a very basic level, Meta-cognition (MC) is defined as the process of thinking about thinking. According to Flavell (1976) “MC refers to one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes or anything related to them.” It involves a self-regulatory mechanism that helps people guide their own performance in complex domains (Cohen et al., 1996) involving assessment and adjustment for problem solving (Cannon-Bowers et al., 1998). It involves two primary functions: monitoring, which includes: identifying the task, the progress evaluation and prediction of results; and control encompasses decisions such as allocations of resources, the specific and detailed steps needed to complete the task, and the prioritisation of activities (Metcalfe and Shimamura, 1994; Schmidt and Ford, 2003). Rather than simply accepting a charged judgment, entrepreneurs with higher meta-cognitive skills are likely to use multiple analytical strategies to evaluate their decisions. In short, MC skills could influence an entrepreneur’s effective decision-making and therefore it deserves a comprehensive analysis. Recently, Blume and Covin (2009) proposed that the level of MC skills possessed by an entrepreneur is positively related to the entrepreneur’s development of expert entrepreneurial skills, and thus a strong correlation exists between entrepreneurial abilities and MC skills (Blume and Covin, 2009).
Few individuals display a greater ability to carry out sophisticated information processing about emotions and emotion-relevant stimuli and to use this information as a guide to thinking and behaviour. Early research on social intelligence by Thorndike (1921), Guilford (1956) and Gardner (1983) had considered the importance of emotions on intellectual functioning. However, the term Emotional Intelligence (EI) was introduced by Mayer, DiPaolo and Salovey (1990); according to them EI is a cognitive ability and can be defined as “the ability to perceive emotions, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions, and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth”. However, the widely accepted definition of EI was given by Goleman (1995) which is focused on the influence of personality factors and cognitive ability on workplace success that makes it the most influential model to be used in empirical studies. In simple terms, EI is stated as the ability to recognise and regulate emotions in ourselves and others (Stys and Brown, 2004; cross ref: Goleman, 1995). Therefore, entrepreneurs’ ability to identify and manage emotions seems to be important for effective decision-making. Positive mood has been shown to enhance right decision making, whereas negative moods have been associated with more complete analyses of situations (Ashby, Isen, and Turken, 1999; Elsbach and Barr, 1999). Being able to accurately perceive and manage these emotions could enable entrepreneurs to make effective use of their intuitive feelings throughout the venture founding process. It was proposed that EI moderates the relationship between an entrepreneur’s possession of expert entrepreneurial schemas and the effective use of entrepreneurial intuition, such that the relationship will be more positive when the entrepreneur possesses greater levels of EI (Blume and Covin, 2009).
The ability to identify market opportunities, build important social and business networks, and attract funding sources and key employees (Baron and Markman, 2000) are all essential attributes for successful entrepreneurs. All such attributes are stemmed on the entrepreneur’s MC skills. EI is vital, especially in managing the entrepreneur’s own and others’ emotions towards building an efficient and effective venture. Moreover, people with higher level of EI tend to exhibit better average communication skills and are better equipped to cope with stress. This is important for generating and maintaining enthusiasm, confidence, and cooperation (Stone et al., 2005, cross ref: George, 2000). Although some research (Blume and Covin, 2009) has indicated the importance of both MC and EI from the entrepreneurial perspective, there is not much evidence of empirical testing especially within the knowledge intensive industries. This research proposes to empirically study and establish associations between MC and EI and analyse the independent and combinatorial effects of both on the development and successful implementation of entrepreneurial ventures.
- Study the effect and impact of different MC skills of entrepreneurs on success and failure of knowledge intensive entrepreneurial ventures.
- To establish a correlation between the level of EI and entrepreneurial skills of entrepreneurs.
- To see the influence of the combined effect of MC and EI on entrepreneurial skills
- To establish a correlation between the combined effect of MC and EI on entrepreneurial skills in different kinds of knowledge intensive industries and their contribution to entrepreneurial success.
Research Design and Methodology
In this study, the data will be collected from various knowledge driven industries including IT companies, Telecommunication, and Pharmaceutical etc. The diversity in sample is necessary to identify specific similarities and/or differences in entrepreneurial skills amongst entrepreneurs with varied MC and EI. The methodology will be developed on the basis of ECI 2.0, a 360-degree tool (Wolff, 2006) designed to assess the emotional competencies of individuals in organizations, based on Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence (1995) which is designed to measure 18 competencies organised into four clusters: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management; and Schraw & Dennison‘s Metacognitive Inventory (Schraw and Dennison, 1994), a 52- item inventory which assesses a person’s knowledge of his cognition and ability to regulate it. The questionnaires will be adapted according to the context of the study, followed by content analysis to ensure the reliability and validity.
Data Analysis: Descriptive analysis (mean, standard deviation and t-Test) and inferential statistics (correlation and regression analysis to calculate dependent and independent variables) will be used to analyse the data and to draw appropriate conclusion from it.
Time Frame: The total project time frame may be: 30-36 months. Initial part of the work will involve the review of literature for 6-9 months consisting of theories about entreprenuership, MC skills and EI etc. This may be followed by selection of certain successful and failed entreprenuerial ventures, across various knowledge driven industries. The study may take approximately 21-24 months. Findings from the study can be reported in the form of few research articles. Review of literature, findings and interpretation from the study can be compiled in the form of thesis in 3-5 months.
Potential problems and Ethical Issues
- Arrangement of a diverse population as sample,
- Handling a large data set,
- People find it offensive to declare personal attributes, which may affect the questionnaire and thus the whole outcome. Prior consent for data gathering and declaration will be sought from all people selected for participation in the study.
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- Blume, B. D., Covin, J. G. (2009). Attributions to intuition in the venture founding process: Do entrepreneurs actually use intuition or just say that they do? Journal of Business Venturing. In press.
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