Disengagement and entrepreneurial exit

Afrahi, Bahare (2019) Disengagement and entrepreneurial exit. (PhD thesis), University of Essex, .


This thesis aims to understand how psychological variables affect disengagement and the exit strategies that entrepreneurs pursue to leave their business. I propose emotional disengagement (i.e. feeling of being emotionally distanced from business) as a mediating psychological mechanism in the relationships between personal psychological antecedents and entrepreneurial exit and empirically examined this. By doing so, this study demonstrates that broader feelings toward the business can be directed toward the exit. Specifically, the results of my analysis indicate that emotional disengagement is consistently related to the entrepreneurial exit intentions and different strategies that entrepreneurs tend to pursue to exit their business, for example, the stewardship and voluntary cessation exit strategies. The unifying theme of this thesis - understanding the psychological mechanisms of entrepreneurial disengagement - guides the three studies that I carry out and present in the thesis. In the first article, I systematically review the literature on work disengagement. This article not only informs the conceptual framework of this study, but also collates, evaluates, and synthesises the current state of knowledge in the field. In the second article, I use the psychological theory of disengagement - derived from the systematic review - and examine how personal psychological variables affect physical disengagement from the business. In particular, I look at the effects of self-doubt, personal reputation, vision for the business and emotional support from entrepreneurs' family. In this article, I propose that emotional disengagement serves as a psychological mediating mechanism in the antecedents-physical disengagement relationships, and test this within a sample of entrepreneurs across the UK using structural equations. In the third article, I examine whether and how emotional disengagement predicts entrepreneurial exit strategies. This article not only extends the second article in addressing the unique impact of emotional disengagement on stewardship, and voluntary cessation exit strategies, but also reconfirms the proposed mediating psychological mechanism of entrepreneurs' emotional disengagement.

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