PI-Training for Entrepreneurs

Personal Initiative Training for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship for poverty alleviation

Entrepreneurship plays an important role towards economic growth and job creation in developing countries and has been acknowledged as a powerful way to reduce poverty. In recent years, policy makers, development practitioners, and scholars have therefore increased their attempts to identify effective measures to promote entrepreneurship. Among various approaches, entrepreneurship trainings have been particularly popular and developed in great number (Coduras Martínez, Levie, Kelley, Saemundsson, & Schott, 2010; McKenzie & Woodruff, 2013). At the same time, only little is known about how and why entrepreneurship trainings work.

Personal initiative training for entrepreneurs

Personal initiative training is an entrepreneurship training which builds on the psychological concept of personal initiative (PI). Personal initiative is characterized by acting in a self-starting, future-oriented, and persistent way (Fay & Frese, 2001). In the entrepreneurial context, personal initiative is indispensable (Mensmann & Frese, in press). As entrepreneurs have to exploit innovative business opportunities (Shane & Vekataraman, 2000) without guidance from supervisors or organizational structures (Frese, 2009), self-starting behavior is required. Faced with competitors, entrepreneurs have to proactively search for information and develop ways and ideas to stay ahead of those offering similar products or services. Moreover, entrepreneurs continuously face conditions (e.g. risk, uncertainty), which are likely to produce errors and setbacks from time to time. Thus, entrepreneurs need to take errors as a source of feedback and learning and constantly overcome setbacks to remain successful.

Personal initiative training leads to entrepreneurial success

Previous research has shown that personal initiative leads to entrepreneurial success of small-sized entrepreneurs (Glaub, Frese, Fischer, & Hoppe, 2014). Building on the facet model of personal initiative (Frese & Fay, 2001) and action-regulation theory  (Frese & Zapf, 1994), PI training aims at developing an active mindset with the help of action principles (Mensmann & Frese, in press). Action principles are rules of thumbs or simplified guidelines (Gielnik et al., 2015), translating abstract knowledge into action knowledge critical for successful entrepreneurs.

Research projects

Our research group has developed and successfully implemented a PI training of entrepreneurship in several developing countries in Africa and Latin America. In order to improve our understanding of under which conditions and via which mechanisms PI training works, we conduct randomized controlled field experiments in collaboration with other international experts. Insights will help to increase the effectiveness of entrepreneurship training in future. 

Current Research Projects