Rule breaking in adolescence and entrepreneurial status: An empirical investigation

Zhen Zhang, Richard D. Arvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Entrepreneurship researchers contend that many entrepreneurs are rule breakers in order to succeed in their venturing processes. Few studies have examined the longitudinal relationship between negative forms of rule breaking in adolescence and entrepreneurial status in adulthood. Drawing upon Willis' [Willis, R.H. 1963. Two dimensions of conformity-nonconformity. Sociometry 26: 499-513.] theory on nonconformity, this study hypothesizes a positive relationship between an individual's modest rule breaking in adolescence and entrepreneurial status. Results (N = 165) support this hypothesis and also show that modest rule breaking serves as a mediator in the relationship between risk propensity and entrepreneurial status. These results have important implications for entrepreneurs' ethical decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-447
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is part of a larger research project supported by the University of Minnesota and in part by a grant to Maria Rotundo from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We would like to thank Bruce Avolio, Maria Rotundo, Fred Walumbwa, the editors of this special issue, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Constructive deviance
  • Entrepreneurial status
  • Ethics
  • Rule breaking


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