Personal helplessness and self-reliance as predictors of small business development in Russia: pilot study results

  • E. Zabelina
  • D. Tsiring
  • Yu Chestyunina


Small business is supposed to be the driver of economies. The pressing problem of involving young people in entrepreneurship could be resolved within the theory of “personal helplessness – self-reliance”, which are considered to be the poles of one continuum. Personal helplessness refers to a personal complex characteristic involving a low level of ability to transform reality, to control events of one’s own life, to set and reach goals, and to overcome difficulties (D. Tsiring 2010). To test the idea of the influence of “personal helplessness – self-reliance” on individuals’ choice of professional activity, we studied this phenomenon in groups of entrepreneurs (N = 30) and civil servants (N = 30) and then compared the results. The comparison revealed business owners to be more close to the pole of self-reliance: they are more purposeful, creative, and independent, and they are less aggressive and susceptible; they have a higher behavior censorship and an internal locus of control. However, Russian entrepreneurs are more pessimistic: they perceive “bad” events as permanent, and they do not expect future changes for the better, which is considered to be an indicator of personal helplessness. Moreover, it was revealed that the motivational component of “personal helplessness – self-reliance” (autonomy and internality) influenced the choice of entrepreneurial career the most. Further theoretical applications are discussed, and recommendations for the entrepreneurial career choice are proposed.


Personal helplessness Self-reliance Entrepreneurship Career choice Autonomy Internality 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chelyabinsk State UniversityChelyabinskRussia

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