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Dr. David Williams

May 3, 2024 • 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Room 1120 (Ivey Business School)

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Department of Management & Entrepreneurship, Haslam College of Business
The University of Tennessee.

"Just Do It? A Configurational Approach to Entrepreneurial Inaction among Black Nascent Entrepreneurs"

Abstract: Successfully launching a new venture is a challenging endeavor (less than 30% of nascent entrepreneurs [NEs] are successful) and is largely impacted by NEs engaging in certain activities to manifest ideas into new firms. Unfortunately, many NEs opt for entrepreneurial inaction, that is, they decide to forego engaging in startup activities. We argue that entrepreneurial inaction decisions may be connected to structural disparities based on NEs' race. The fact that Black-owned businesses represent only 2% of employer-led firms in the U.S., despite Blacks representing 12% of the U.S. population suggests that exploring inaction, particularly among Black NEs, is critical. Drawing from expectancy theory as a theoretical anchor, we build on prior work on individual-level entrepreneurial inaction and action as well as on startup activities, to examine the configuration of factors that influence entrepreneurial inaction (deciding to forgo [avoid] specific startup activities) versus action among Black NEs, using fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). Our results reveal distinct configurational patterns for startup activity avoidance for Black NEs, underscoring the idea that entrepreneurial inaction among NEs is not race-neutral. Moreover, the results indicate important asymmetries in inaction vs. action decisions. Theoretical implications for research as well as practical implications for NEs and policymakers supporting them are discussed.

Biography: Dr. Williams holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management from Georgia State University, an MBA in International Business from DePaul University, and a BA in International Studies from Millikin University. His research centers on cognitive processes underpinning entrepreneurial decision making and behaviors that impact a firm’s growth, profitability, and survival. Specific areas of interest include entrepreneurs’ evaluation of entrepreneurial opportunities, internationalization, identity and experimental methods. Dr. Williams has taught courses in Entrepreneurship, Strategic Management, and International Business at the University of Tennessee, Georgia State University, and Bradley University.  Prior to receiving his PhD, he worked as a consultant with an international SBDC to help small-to-medium sized companies expand internationally.