Endeavors by entrepreneurs to manage the connections between business and family can manifest in many behaviors and decisions. Entrepreneurs may curtail their family life for their business or modify their business involvement for their family. The processes at this interface between business and family may affect the entrepreneur's intention to exit or persist in the business. In this study we aim to extend the literature on entrepreneurial exit by examining the linkages between the business and family domains. Applying work-family interface theory, we examine linkages between the family and business domains (e.g., business-to-family interference, business-to-family enrichment, family-to-business interference, and family-to-business enrichment) and how these processes affect male and female entrepreneurs' intentions to exit their current business. The data were obtained from the National Study of the Changing Workforce in the United States. We utilize a subsample of 388 married entrepreneurs who considered their business a full-time endeavor. We found support for the effects of business-to-family enrichment and the two interference variables on exit intentions. Further, we found that exit intentions were stronger for female than male entrepreneurs experiencing interference between the business and family. These findings held when controlling for the effect of business performance as perceived by the entrepreneur. Executive summary Work-family interface is an important factor that determines the employee's job attitudes and behaviors (Greenhaues and Allen, 2011). In entrepreneurship, scholars have started to recognize the importance of business-family interface (Jennings and McDougald, 2007). Previous studies have examined the effect of business-family interface on business performance and entrepreneurs' work satisfaction (Eddleston and Powell, 2012; Powell and Eddleston, 2013). Additionally, the majority of these studies focused on either the enrichment process (i.e., synergy between work and family domains) (Eddleston and Powell, 2010; Powell and Eddleston, 2013) or the interference process (i.e., conflict between work and family domains) (Jennings and McDougald, 2007; Shelton, 2006). The current research seeks to investigate both enrichment and interference processes and their effects on entrepreneurs' intentions to exit their business and work for paid employment. According to the literature of work-family interface (WFI) (e.g., Greenhaus and Allen, 2011), there are four constructs underlying the business-family interface: business-to-family enrichment (i.e., the emotions and resources generated in the business domain transfer to and benefit the family domain), family-to-business enrichment (i.e., the emotions and resources generated in the family domain transfer to and benefit the business domain), business-to-family interference (i.e., the emotions and resources generated in the business domain constrain the entrepreneur's time, cognition, and behaviors in the family domain), and family-to-business interference (i.e., the emotions and resources generated in the family domain constrain the entrepreneur's time, cognition, and behaviors in the business domain). The first two capture the bi-directional nature of enrichment processes, and the last two capture the bi-directional nature of interference processes. Because the enrichment process originated in each domain (business or family) incurs positive emotions and enables entrepreneurs to allocate more resources to use in the other domain, it may enhance their psychological well-being, increase their satisfaction with family, job, and life (Beutell, 2007; Eddleston and Powell, 2012; Edwards and Rothbard, 2000; Powell and Eddleston, 2013), and thereby decrease their intention to exit the business. Specifically, we propose that family-to-business enrichment and business-to-family enrichment are negatively related to exit intentions. Conversely, the interference process from each domain suppresses positive emotions, hampers psychological well-being, and limits resources that can aid in the other domain (Beutell, 2007; Jennings and McDougald, 2007; Shelton, 2006). Hence, we propose that the two interference processes increase exit intentions. More importantly, we argue that female entrepreneurs put more weight on work-family balance (Bielby and Bielby, 1989), need more resources from the family domain (Powell and Eddleston, 2013), and tend to adopt a “growth-constraining” strategy to cope with work-family conflict (Jennings and McDougald, 2007, p. 753). Therefore, we further propose that the effects of enrichment and interference processes on exit intentions will be different for female and male entrepreneurs. We found support for the effects of business-to-family enrichment and the two interference variables on exit intentions. Both business-to-family interference and family-to-business interference positively relate to exit intentions. Business-to-family enrichment negatively relates to exit intentions. Further, we found that exit intentions were stronger for female than male entrepreneurs experiencing interference between the business and family. Finally, these findings held when controlling for the effect of business performance as perceived by the entrepreneur. By building on an established theoretical framework (WFI) and applying it in the entrepreneurial exit context, we observe that the interference predictions are generally in line with WFI and extend into the entrepreneurial exit domain. We believe that this research provides an important contribution to the exit literature.
- Entrepreneurial exit
- Work-family interface
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation