Predicting entrepreneurial development based on individual and business-related characteristics is a key objective of entrepreneurship research. In this context, we investigate whether the motives of becoming an entrepreneur influence the subsequent entrepreneurial development. In our analysis, we examine a broad range of business outcomes including survival and income, as well as job creation, and expansion and innovation activities for up to 40 months after business formation. Using the self-determination theory as conceptual background, we aggregate the start-up motives into a continuous motivational index. We show – based on a unique dataset of German start-ups from unemployment and non-unemployment – that the later business performance is better, the higher they score on this index. Effects are particularly strong for growth-oriented outcomes like innovation and expansion activities. In a next step, we examine three underlying motivational categories that we term opportunity, career ambition, and necessity. We show that individuals driven by opportunity motives perform better in terms of innovation and business expansion activities, while career ambition is positively associated with survival, income, and the probability of hiring employees. All effects are robust to the inclusion of a large battery of covariates that are proven to be important determinants of entrepreneurial performance.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, push and pull theories, start-up motivation, survival, job creation, firm growth, innovation