The need for Self-Fulfillment

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Literature Review

Introduction: ideas on how to study entrepreneurship

The background to the topic presented above clearly showed that many perspectives have been taken to study entrepreneurship. Throughout decades authors have focused on the external forces, the individual traits, then the motivation. Although so far no one perspective model seems enough to explain every situation and no one technique seems better than another to ver the topic “entrepreneurship”, this variety of views led scholars to many debates (see Gartner 1988 and Carland et al. 1988 answering each other on the topic of “who the entrepreneur is” to understand the topic is far from agreed upon) and ultimately it brought up an important conclusion: entrepreneurship should be studied as a multidimensional process, which Gartner (1988) and Carland et al. (1988) previously mentioned agreed on.
This is not a mere statement: it is a beginning of a framework that whoever wants to study of entrepreneurship should work in. Therefore the following literature review will cover different aspects such as economical or psychological, and different levels: the individual and the firm (which are closely related when a single entrepreneur starts a venture).
However it is not question here of simply summarizing what has been said on different subjects. Johnson (1990) suggests a link between psychology, behavior and firm out-comes is needed in the field of entrepreneurship, and therefore the different topics re-viewed further down are also linked together into one coherent whole. This also seems to be an important precaution in order to give a good overview of the subject of this pa-per because it belongs to many categories.
One last important point to mention in this introduction is the definition chosen of the word “entrepreneur”. In this study, it will be used to designate “an individual who cre-ated a company”. It does not matter whether it is successful or not, whether it still exists or not or any other difference one may find among people starting ventures. What mat-ters is the motive behind entrepreneurship.

Motivation in entrepreneurship

Why studying motivation?

The main subject of this paper deals with motivation, and more precisely the motive known as “the need of an individual to Self-Fulfill”. Authors such as Bird (1988) have stressed the importance of entrepreneurial intentions as a forerunner to establishing a new venture, thus highlighting the importance of the “what” driving the person starting a company.
Herron and Sapienza (1992) were even clearer by saying “Because motivation plays an important part in the creation of new organizations, theories of organizational creation that fail to address this notion are incomplete”. Thus not only is studying motivation relevant because the need for Self-Fulfillment belongs to that category, but also because this paper is about organizational creation.

Defining motivation

Motivation can be defined as a behavior toward the achievement of a goal (Kaufman 1990). Therefore motivation is a behavior, a set of actions. According to Maslow (1943), motivation comes from a need to be fulfilled, and here is an important distinc-tion: the one between motives and motivation.
According to the authors mentioned above, motivation is an action directed toward something specific, and this something is a need to be fulfilled. Therefore the need is the motive (the reason) for acting, and this study will be about the motive known as “Self-Fulfillment”, leading to the set of actions called “entrepreneurship”.
Markman and Baron, in their article “Person-entrepreneurship fit: why some people are more successful as entrepreneurs than others” (2003) have made an interesting connec-tion between the individual’s need (motive) and values or preferences. This connection could not be better summarized than by quoting them directly: “People are attracted to work settings that are consistent with their values and fulfill their needs.”
So basically it seems a person’s mindset and personal characteristics help defining which job to choose, while the need that person wants to fulfill sets the expectations for the job chosen. Now if this is applied to entrepreneurship, it tells us that the entrepre-neur’s own preferences push toward entrepreneurship rather than other professions (however we will not go into details for this aspect: “why” someone chose venture crea-tion instead of something else is beyond the scope of this paper), while his or her need to be fulfilled at the time the decision is made defines what is searched through venture creation.

Different motives behind entrepreneurship

Now that motivation and motives have been clarified and that we understand how they apply to entrepreneurship, it is important to introduce the main trend in research aiming at classifying motives, namely the “push” and “pull” factors.
Gilad and Levine (1986) proposed an entrepreneurial motivation theory called “push” theory and “pull” theory. The “push” theory states that an individual becomes an entre-preneur by impact of negative external forces. That person is “pushed” to entrepreneur-ship by, for example, job dissatisfaction, difficulty finding employment, lack of suffi-cient salary or difficult work schedule. Most of time the push theory is applied to entre-preneurs in developing countries, e.g. starting a shop or selling vegetables they grow in order to survive. Entrepreneurship in that context often aims at fulfilling basic needs (more on the concept of needs and their classification further down in this literature re-view).
On the other hand the “pull” theory states that individuals are involved in entrepreneuri-al behavior as a mean for the quest of autonomy, self-fulfillment, wealth and prosperity achievement and further enviable outcomes (related to higher order needs). The person is attracted by something that is perceived as achievable through entrepreneurship.
Keeble et al. (1992) stated that most of the time people were pulled rather than pushed to entrepreneurship. Besides it could be argued that being pushed or pulled is essentially a matter of point of view: if one does not find employment (a pushed factor toward ven-ture creation), then one wishes to start a company in order to have a job (pulled to venture creation). Therefore in order to make the difference clear, this paper offers to con-sider one’s motives as belonging to the “pull” theory when that person knows what he or she is looking for when starting a company, while considering as belonging to the “push” theory any motive based on escaping a current situation without a clear goal to reach (the feeling could be summarized by a sentence such as “I want to change my cur-rent situation but I don’t know yet how my new situation should be”).


This part of the literature review about motivation contains multiple key elements rele-vant for this paper: first there is a need to study motivation to understand entrepreneur-ship; second motivation has been defined as a behavior originating in a motive, a goal, which has been found to be a need to be fulfilled. Thus “motivation behind entrepre-neurship” refers to the need to be fulfilled through entrepreneurship. Third two big cate-gories of motives have been identified: push and pull. The former one refers to people whose motives can essentially be summarized as a will to change a current situation without a clear goal as to what to build, while the latter one refers to people clearly aim-ing at something they believe can be attained through entrepreneurship.

The need for Self-Fulfillment

As the title of this paper suggests it, the subject dealt with here is not just any kind of motive or “motives” in general: it is the need for “Self-Fulfillment”.
It is an especially difficult concept to work with as it encompasses ideas from a variety of discipline: behavior, psychology, even spirituality to some extent. It is a term that everyone seems to understand or recognize when felt, while no one is able to define it. Besides it rather belongs to the world of personal experimentation and interpretation than external “scientific” observation.
Yet for the need of clarity a few main ideas encompassed by the term “Self-Fulfillment” as gathered here, starting with Goldstein (1939) who wrote that Self-Fulfillment could be viewed as the tendency of an individual to wanting to become more of what he or she is, to bring out his or her outmost qualities, to do what one is truly capable of. This need does not take a definite shape but varies from one person to another, thus pointing out why it is so difficult to describe in absolute terms.
Self-Fulfillment is also the place for personal growth and development, the chance of doing something original or innovative (Mitchell & Moudgill, 1976). It is the approach of feeling valuable by achieving goals linked with one’s own perception and standards, as opposed to what is commonly presented as “good” or “desirable”.
Self-Fulfillment also relates to one’s personal standards and expectations (Gewirth, 1998), which is certainly the key aspect of the concept. It is defined as an individual’s attainment of his or her strongest and deepest desire.
Regarding the push and pull theory introduced above, Gilad & Levine (1986) classified Self-Fulfillment as a pull factor as it is something people are attracted to.
Finally, to relate Self-Fulfillment to venture creation, it has been mentioned as an objec-tive for starting a company (Sarri & Trihopoulou 2004 and Buttner & Moore 1997).
In this paper no specific definition is chosen: rather the emphasis should be put on see-ing Self-Fulfillment as a little bit of everything detailed above. Choosing one definitio n over another would mean rejecting or forgetting some key aspects. It is thus better to go through what other authors have written and shape a global idea.

Maslow’s Pyramid of the Human Needs and its relevance for this topic

The word “need”, associated with motives, motivation and Self-Fulfillment, has been extensively used in this literature review. Maslow has been mentioned too, and it is not a coincidence his name appears in this topic: he provided a hierarchy of the human needs in a very understandable and concrete fashion by using clear headings and a pyr-amid shape, as will be shown further down, and thanks to his work the topic of this pa-per, and more specifically the notion of Self-Fulfillment, will be clarified.
Therefore this part of the literature review will extensively introduce Maslow’s work, its application and detail its relevance in the context of this paper.

General information

In “Theory of Human Motivation” (1943), Maslow built what would become a famous model summarizing and ordering the human needs. His work is perceived at the same time as a theory of human motives, since motives have been related to needs and his work classifies needs, and also a theory of human motivation as it relates the needs to the general behavior of an individual.
The hierarchy of needs proposed by Maslow (1970) consists of:

  • The physiological needs
  • Need for safety
  • Need for love and belongingness
  • Need for Self-Esteem
  • Need for Self-Actualization

Maslow (1954) also made a distinction between the different categories of needs: those which are deficiency needs, and those which are growth need. Therefore the first 3 lev-els (i.e. physiological, safety, belongingness) belong to the deficiency needs, while self-esteem and self-actualization are among the growth needs. Also figure 2-1 illustrates the fact an individual will first seek to fulfill a lower need before accessing the next level. To put it another way: an individual will not feel a higher need until the need just before is fulfilled.
Also deficient needs have top priority over growth need in order of fulfillment (Wahba Bridwell, 1976). It means that if a lower need once fulfilled is suddenly no longer covered, the person will feel that need again and lose interest in higher order needs. For example someone interested in building relationships, looking for friends (belonging-ness) or willing to discover and understand new cultures, to achieve something on his/her own (self-esteem) will put at once all his or her energy and focus in the search of food if it suddenly lacks, forgetting all the rest.
It also explains the concept of pyramid-shape: each part is built on top of the previous one and therefore shows that a person goes through each step without being able to skip one. If a lower step lacks, the whole structure crumbles and the person goes back to the unfulfilled need.
Finally Maslow (1970) made an important statement: he postulated that the hierarchy of needs is universal and does not depend on cultures, times or societies, thus the name “human needs” as it relates to every human being. It is a big difference with other views focusing on apparent desires or behaviors, very context-dependent.

Details of the different needs

Human needs are interrelated and interactive (Max-Neef, 1992): it is a global system with elements related to each other. The needs are the same for all individuals regard-less of any background (consumerist or ascetic society). The only thing that can vary is the individual’s choice of quantity and quality of satisfiers.
Now each need will be reviewed with a strong focus and lots of details given on Self-Actualization. More information regarding the four previous needs can be found in ap-pendix 1 at the end of this paper, especially how they manifest and how they are com-monly addressed. Also the needs are related to the individual (as opposed to companies, which comes later) in order to better understand the different motives behind people’s behaviors.

1 Introduction 
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Problem statement
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Plan of this paper
2 Literature Review 
2.1 Introduction: ideas on how to study entrepreneurship
2.2 Motivation in entrepreneurship
2.3 The need for Self-Fulfillment
2.4 Maslow’s Pyramid of the Human Needs and its relevance for this topic
2.5 Self-Fulfillment and entrepreneurship
2.6 Conclusion: the need for Self-Fulfillment as the motive behind entrepreneurship
3 Method 
3.1 Choice of research method: qualitative
3.2 Data collection method: interviews
3.3 Sample specifications
3.4 The action plan
3.5 Trustworthiness
4 Results
4.1 Introducing the Findings
5 Analysis
5.1 Origin of Self-Fulfillment:
5.2 Role of the company:
5.3 Background of the individuals and companies:
5.4 Additional findings:
6 Conclusion 
6.1 Answering the research questions
6.2 Contribution
6.3 Further research
List of references
Entrepreneurs Driven by the Need for Self-Fulfillment An exploration of the origin of such a need and how entrepreneurs work towards fulfilling it

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