The MiscRisk project intends to prevent harmful behaviors and misconduct in entrepreneurship. According to the literature, it is widely accepted that entrepreneurship may have destructive features. Such features may create harm (or externalities) on several levels, creating a great number of victims among stakeholders, consumers and the public.
This research project has as main objectives the analyses of the risk factors involved in misconduct in entrepreneurship and the production of i) a multidimensional risk assessment tool to be applied in the early stages of incubation processes (MES – Misconduct in Entrepreneurship Scale) and ii) the production of sets of guidelines resulting from the assessment, to be delivered to the incubators at the beginning of each batch.
Thus, the research project will be structured in 3 main phases.
3 years (2021)
The development of the Misconduct in Entrepreneurship Scale includes a qualitative and a quantitative study. Following standard guidelines for scale development, the first stage consists in focus groups with entrepreneurs, investors and other relevant stakeholders (such as program managers). In order to undertake this task, a series of focus groups (in Portugal) with entrepreneurs and investors (separate groups for each of the segments) is conducted. The script explores the types of behaviors that investors and startup founders met along their careers and that, although not strictly illegal, have the potential of being considered misconduct. The data collected at this stage is analyzed through a Grounded Analysis approach, with the aid of corresponding software, such as NVivo
Phase two consists in the development of the Risk for Misconduct in Entrepreneurship Assessment tool. General guidelines suggested by criminal recidivism risk assessment, combining personality, attitudes, social norms and previous misconduct behaviour assessments, are combined with perceived opportunities for misconduct. The elements that are successfully admitted to incubation periods will be followed up during the length of the program (usually 4 to 6 months). The follow up analysis in month 6 will allow the analysis of the predictive ability of the instrument (and analyze the possibility of dropping items/dimensions). A final assessment point relates to the objective success of entrepreneurs during and post-incubation stage. This stage will allow us to understand, in a complex manner, the extent to which a combination of situational (such as descriptive or prescriptive norms related to misconduct) and the personality aspects of the entrepreneurs combine in determining the emergence of misconduct/contribution towards success, and delineate, in an exploratory manner a set of conditional guidelines to be presented to incubators.
In addition, each entrepreneur will be followed up 6 months after the end of the incubation period, in order to analyze the stability and longer term predictive ability of the risk factors identified.
The final stage of the project has an exploratory/applied purpose. Based on the knowledge gained from phases 1 and 2, a tool is developed to perform on a case by case basis, an assessment of the normative, pro-misconduct aspects of each incubation program, and combine them with the personal characteristics of attending entrepreneurs to produce a set of guidelines for each program. The guidebook has the general form of an initial assessment of the risk factors for each candidate, along with an empirically determined probability of misconduct, plus an overshot of the main situational aspects that characterize the incubator/batch. This program will be delivered to the partner incubators and a first feasibility study on its use will be performed on the final stage of the project.