Interactions and entrepreneurial agency; a relational view of entrepreneurs’ control cognitions
This paper is about the relational view to control constructs and entrepreneurship. It introduces the concept ‘interaction locus of control’ to the study of entrepreneurial agency cognitions. We argue that a better understanding of entrepreneurial agency can be achieved by re-engaging with the psychological constructs of ‘locus of control’, ‘personal control’ and ‘self-efficacy’. We argue that typically, control constructs neglect how the agent is socially situated. In contrast, our theorizing sheds conceptual light on the situated and relational nature of entrepreneurs’ agency cognition, and presents a case for social interaction as a locus of control.
We analyze agency cognitions in comparative survey data generated in 2001, 2006 and 2012 among farmers and small business owners in Finland (n = 2771). Results show that interaction locus of control correlated positively with personal control, self-efficacy and internal locus of control, but unlike the latter variables, it did not have negative correlations with external loci of control. Furthermore, belief in interaction locus of control was significantly stronger among small business owners than among farmers, corresponding to the difference between groups in believing in one’s agency in business. Our analysis demonstrates the importance of interactive loci of control in entrepreneurship. For entrepreneurs, agency is embedded in the processes of social relationships. We conclude that a more socialized psychological lens is needed to release the explanatory power of control constructs.