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Entrepreneurial Well-Being and Mental Health

Supervisors: Karina Cagarman & Nicolas Noak

Note: The list below is a compilation of possible master thesis topics that are thematically related to our research group on Entrepreneurial Well-Being and Mental Health. All titles are working titles. None of the topics is necessarily "set in stone" and we are happy about any kind of suggestion and are looking forward to any cooperation!

If you are interested in any topic, you are very welcome to reach out to us via:

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#1 Similarities and differences of POS and POB in an entrepreneurship context – a conceptional analysis and critical assessment.

Elaboration on the differences and similarities between Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) and Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) and possible transformation of the compiled aspects into an entrepreneurial/entrepreneurship context. The thesis should be widely conceptional in nature but may also include an empirical part by conducting interviews to briefly evaluate the assumptions.

#2 Methods and Measurements in POP/POB/POS – An overview and development of a questionnaire concept for entrepreneurship research

What measurements currently prevail and are commonly used within POS/POB/POP? How can they be translated or fitted to entrepreneurship research? Based on this short review and compiled considerations for entrepreneurship the task is to develop a survey, explain the reasoning, conduct the survey and evaluate the results and outcomes including thoughts on possible shortcomings, extensions and improvements.

#3 Common practices/methods and tools of well-being and positive psychology in an entrepreneurial context – A list of criteria and recommended steps

Elaborate literature review on common practices in the context of PP and well-being literature (but also from organizational theory or psychology of the workplace) and screening of relevant concepts in an entrepreneurial context. The focus should lie both on the individual as well as the team level. The thesis should result in compiling recommendations and a list of criteria for adaptations of tools and methods in an entrepreneurial environment.

#4 Getting physical – Conceptualization, development and assessment of a workshop-format fostering entrepreneurial wellbeing

The core of the thesis is to develop a functional work-shop concept and format within the context of well-being and entrepreneurship education. A first part includes screening relevant literature, concepts, aspects and practices from an educational point of view - how and by using what concepts and methods can research on entrepreneurial well-being be conveyed in a workshop-environment? Conclusive is a critical assessment of the workshop-format and possible limitations.

#5 Being well by doing good? Theoretical modelling of cognitive and personality precedents of commercial and sustainable entrepreneurs in terms of their well-being

What are differences and similarities in terms of entrepreneurial wellbeing between commercial entrepreneurs (focused on financial returns, growth etc.) and sustainable entrepreneurs (focused on impact, scaling and solving a societal problem)? How do these differences relate to personality traits and cognition? The main task, after sufficiently screening the literature, is to develop propositions and to derive a theoretical model linking entrepreneurial well-being, personality traits and differences of CE/SE.

#6 A dynamic perspective on well-being in entrepreneurship. The phases that shape entrepreneur’s well-being and the triggers involved.

What is the state of an entrepreneur’s well being through the different phases of the entrepreneurial process. Do differences depend on personality traits and cognition? The goal of this thesis is to do a structured literature analysis in the field of entrepreneurship as well as related fields such as management, organizational theory, etc. and develop propositions embedded in a theoretical framework.

#7 Effects of well-being and mental health on (entrepreneurial) decision making and judgment: experimental approaches (IOWA gambling test)

How do states and levels of well-being and mental health affect various types of decision making in entrepreneurship (e.g. opportunity evaluation, funding considerations, team decisions)? Especially, but not exclusively, negative affect and aspects of well-being (e.g. stress, anxiety or – more severe – depression and mental disorders) can influence entrepreneurial individual and team decisions greatly – to the expense of the performance or impact of the venture. The task is to screen relevant literature and concepts in both well-being and entrepreneurship literature and describe some suggestions and implications for suitable experimental design.

#8 Concepts, methods and tools of POP/POB/POS to increase well-being and mental health to remove the negative effects or increase positive effects of biases and heuristics and improve entrepreneurial decision making

There is some evidence that specific techniques like mindfulness mitigate some biases and may improve decision making. What other methods, concepts and tools of PP are effective in treating biases and establishing heuristics: mitigate negative effects and foster positive effects. Where are they of relevance in an entrepreneurial context? The goal is to do a literature screening and report various findings and considerations of PP techniques in an entrepreneurial well-being context and some practical implications.

#9 When too much is too much: Effects and consequences of the “dark side of entrepreneurial personality” (e.g.  “Dark triad” - narcissism, machiavellianism, psychopathy) on well-being and mental health of founders, start-up teams and decision-making/performance

When reaching extreme levels, some usually beneficial personality traits for entrepreneurs may have significant negative effects for well-being, mental health and organizational performance, further limiting decision-making capacities. What exactly are those effects and consequences in an entrepreneurship context? Based on an elaborate analysis of biographies, short stories or case studies of entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial endeavour showing signs of the “dark triad” of personality, this thesis seeks to develop and formulate propositions that later can be tested by e.g. questionnaires, interviews or other data.

#10 Entrepreneurial HERO: The role and performance Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism (“Psychological Capital” or “PsyCap”) for entrepreneurial well-being, mental health and startup-performance

Psychological Capital, consisting of Hope, (Self-)Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism, is a core concept in Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) that may significantly contribute to organizational performance and can even determine a competitive advantage. Hence, the role of PsyCap within an entrepreneurial context may be crucial not only for the performance and competitive advantages of start-ups but also the well-being and mental health of their founders or founding teams. This thesis aims at developing a plausible framework of PsyCap as another important resource for successful entrepreneurial venturing and proposing suitable methodologies for future research.

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