Trust, poverty, and subjective wellbeing among Chinese entrepreneurs

Yiyi Su, Shaker A. Zahra, Rui Li, Di Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Entrepreneurs’ subjective wellbeing has become an important topic in research: entrepreneurs undertake risks and create their companies seeking personal satisfaction and fulfillment. As a result, researchers have given considerable attention to the antecedents and the conditions under which wellbeing materializes, especially in emerging economies where poverty may be acute. In this study, we propose that generalized trust serves as an informal institution that affects entrepreneurs’ subjective wellbeing. Further, we propose that this relationship is subject to boundary conditions of economic and social poverty as well as context-specific formal institutional features. We test our predictions using a multi-sourced sample of 818 Chinese entrepreneurs. We find that trust is positively associated with entrepreneurs’ subjective wellbeing. This association is moderated by both economic poverty and social poverty. When high or low institutional voids are evident across the different regions of China, the main and moderating effects are further differentiated. The study suggests that, as a mechanism to mitigate the negative effect of lacking formal institutions, the level of trust in different regions is more relevant in social poverty rather than in economic poverty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-245
Number of pages25
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported, in part, by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No.71872043), the MOE (Ministry of Education in China) Project of Humanities and Social Sciences (Project No. 18YJA630097) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities. We would like to thank editor, Professors Steven Si, John Cullen, David Ahlstrom and Jiang Wei, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions in the PDW and revision process.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Entrepreneurs’ subjective wellbeing
  • economic poverty
  • institutional voids
  • social poverty
  • trust


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