Small business owners’ success criteria, a values approach to personal differences


This study of 150 Dutch small business owners, identified through business/ network directories, investigated relationships between owners’ understanding of success and their personal values. Business owners ranked 10 success criteria. Per- sonal satisfaction, profitability, and satisfied stakeholders ranked highest. Multidi- mensional scaling techniques revealed two dimensions underlying the rank order of success criteria: person-oriented (personal satisfaction versus business growth) and business-oriented (profitability versus contributing back to society). Furthermore, business growth, profitability, and innovativeness were guided by self-enhancing value orientations (power and achievement). Softer success criteria, such as having satisfied stakeholders and a good work–life balance, were guided by self-transcendent value orientations (benevolence and universalism).



Version: Accepted Version

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