, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 147–166 | Cite as

It’s not charisma that makes extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs, but extraordinary success that makes entrepreneurs charismatic

A second-order observation of the self-reinforcing entrepreneurial ideology
  • Fabiola H. Gerpott
  • Alfred KieserEmail author


Extreme success among entrepreneurs is often attributed to their charisma. In contrast, this essay claims that success causes the ascription of charisma to entrepreneurs. The proponents of the entrepreneurial ideology uphold successful charismatic entrepreneurs as role models to attract aspiring entrepreneurs in the face of deterrent information like the share of luck accountable for many prosperous entrepreneurial projects, startups’ low success rate, the entrepreneur’s restricted role in creating economic growth, and the routinization of the entrepreneurial function. Yet, due to the ideological functionality of attributing charisma to successful entrepreneurs, we suggest that – despite the strong contrary evidence – the glorification of entrepreneurs will continue to exist (and might become even stronger) in times of “alternative facts”. Yet, such a strategy of biased fact interpretation may have considerable negative side effects on society and individuals striving for entrepreneurship. Therefore, we not only call for more research taking into account the multidimensional nature of entrepreneurship, but also sensitize researchers for the threat of post-factual thinking when engaging in an ideological intervened research stream.


Charisma Critical research Entrepreneurship Ideology 

Charisma macht nicht Unternehmer außergewöhnlich erfolgreich, sondern außergewöhnlicher Erfolg macht Unternehmer charismatisch

Eine Beobachtung zweiter Ordnung der sich selbst verstärkenden unternehmerischen Ideologie


Herausragende Erfolge von Unternehmern werden oft mit ihrem Charisma erklärt. Im Gegensatz dazu argumentieren wir, dass Erfolg die Zuschreibung von Charisma begründet. Die Verfechter der unternehmerischen Ideologie nutzen den erfolgreichen charismatischen Entrepreneur als Vorbild zur Motivation angehender Unternehmer – trotz gegenläufiger Informationen wie die Rolle des puren Glücks in der Erklärung von Unternehmerkarrieren, die niedrige Erfolgsquote von Startups, des begrenzten Einflusses des Unternehmers bei der Schaffung ökonomischen Wachstums und die Routinisierung der unternehmerischen Funktion. Wir stellen heraus dass aufgrund der ideologischen Funktionalität der Zuschreibung von Charisma zu erfolgreichen Unternehmern die Verehrung von Entrepreneuren – ungeachtet gegenläufiger Informationen – in Zeiten „alternativer Fakten“ weiter erfolgen wird (und sich eventuell sogar noch verstärkt). Eine derartige Strategie der voreingenommenen Fakteninterpretation kann allerdings beachtliche negative Auswirkungen für die Gesellschaft und Individuen mit unternehmerischem Streben haben. Aus diesem Grund erhoffen wir uns nicht nur mehr Forschung mit dem Ziel einer multidimensionalen Betrachtung des Unternehmertums, sondern sensibilisieren Wissenschaftler auch für die Gefahr postfaktischen Denkens bei der Durchführung von Forschung in einem ideologisch verklärten Wissenschaftsgebiet.


Charisma Kritische Managementforschung Entrepreneurship Unternehmertum Ideologie 


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Professor emeritusMannheim UniversityMannheimGermany

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