Schulich research links growth mindset training with entrepreneurs’ confidence

Group of diverse women entrepreneurs

New research from York University’s Schulich School of Business shows that “growth mindset training” – the motivating sense that abilities can improve through experimentation and failure – can make entrepreneurs more confident and action-oriented.

Geoffrey Kistruck
Geoffrey Kistruck

The findings are contained in an upcoming issue of Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. The article, titled “The Impact of Growth Mindset Training on Entrepreneurial Action Among Necessity Entrepreneurs: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial,” was co-authored by Geoffrey M. Kistruck, professor and RBC Chair in Social Innovation & Impact at the Schulich School of Business, together with Shad Morris, professor of management; and Chad Carlos, associate professor of management, both from the Marriott School of Business, Brigham Young University; as well as Robert B. Lount, junior professor of organizational behaviour at the Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University; and Tumsifu Elly Thomas, a senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam.

According to the researchers, entrepreneurship training programs often fall short in translating knowledge into action – particularly with respect to so-called “necessity entrepreneurs,” mostly prevalent in developing economies, who often engage in small subsistence businesses due to a lack of formal employment opportunities. To address this issue, the researchers conducted an experiment with 165 entrepreneurs in rural Tanzania. All participants received technical skills training, but half were also exposed to growth mindset training. Those who received the growth mindset training were more willing to try new entrepreneurial actions to diversify and grow their business rather than remain “fixed” in the way they operate their business day-to-day.

“By using growth mindset training, which instills the value of persistence and the growth potential of continuous effort, we’ve shown that entrepreneurs can cultivate increased confidence in their abilities, leading to increased willingness to act on identified entrepreneurial opportunities,” says Kistruck. “Growth mindset training is a positive new intervention that, when combined with existing technical training programs, has been shown to positively affect key entrepreneurial outcomes – a hopeful sign when it comes to poverty alleviation in developing economies.”