Mental health and well-being (MWB) are increasingly recognized as central pillars of entrepreneurship research. Evidence has accumulated supporting the crucial role MWB plays in the experience, motivation, decision-making, and actions of startup founders. However, to date, this disproportionate focus on startup founders has come at the expense of examining MWB among another key constituent of startups – its early employees. Like founders, early startup employees have been shown to have a long-lasting effect on firm performance. Founders and employees also share striking similarities in both personal characteristics and work environment, which are key antecedents of MWB. Moreover, to the extent that MWB shapes what founders do and how they do it, employees are the first to be affected, including the possibility of MWB contagion effects. Yet, with few exceptions, research has largely ignored the MWB profiles of startup employees and their impact on entrepreneurship outcomes (e.g., entrepreneurial success or failure). This PhD project primarily aims to address this gap. To this end, the project also aims to contribute to entrepreneurship literature through innovative methodological approaches for assessing and analyzing mental health and well-being.
This project aims to examine MWB among early startup employees by investigating MWB antecedents, processes, and outcomes in this specific context, ultimately advancing knowledge of how startup employees’ MWB affects individuals, entrepreneurial organisations, and society. Given the nascent status of the literature, the project will help establish systematic research on early startup employees. It will also help put anecdotal evidence indicating a “well-being crisis” in startups to a rigorous empirical test. Moreover, it will also deliver actionable implications on how startups can better promote employee well-being and thus entrepreneurial success.