Can prosocial motivation harm entrepreneurs' subjective well-being?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • Hanken School of Economics
  • University of Queensland
  • University of St. Gallen
  • Luleå University of Technology
  • University of Warwick
  • Universidad del Desarrollo


Entrepreneurship research on prosocial motivation has outlined its positive impact on well-being, but still little is known about its power, which may have deleterious personal consequences under certain conditions. In this study, we ask whether prosocial motivation can harm entrepreneurs' subjective well-being when they run a commercial venture. Embedded within a contingency perspective informed by self-determination theory, we build on longitudinal survey data to explain the effect of prosocial motivation on entrepreneurs' overall life satisfaction. Our analysis demonstrates that prosocial motivation has a negative effect on entrepreneurs' life satisfaction due to increased levels of stress. However, our findings show that the negative effect of prosocial motivation dissipates when perceived autonomy at work is high compared to when it is low. Overall, our research raises questions on the role of prosocial motivation for entrepreneurs' subjective well-being and, in particular, discusses its potential “dark side” in the context of commercial entrepreneurship.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-624
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number4
Early online date22 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Entrepreneurship, subjective well-being, prosocial behavior

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