Risk of burnout in French entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis

Olivier Torrès*, Alexandre Benzari, Christian Fisch, Jinia Mukerjee, Abdelaziz Swalhi, Roy Thurik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Abstract: The COVID-19 crisis presents manifest threats for entrepreneurs since their business survival is often directly at stake given the alarming economic downturn. This existential threat, together with their crucial role in the economy, is the reason for the plethora of public financial support schemes being implemented throughout the entire world. However, support schemes for mental health are lacking. We aim to investigate, first, whether burnout levels have increased during the crisis and, second, whether burnout levels during the COVID-19 crisis depend on the threat of becoming ill, having to stay at home due to the lockdown, and/or having to file for bankruptcy due to the economic downturn. We do so using seven data sets of French entrepreneurs with a temporal comparison of averages and two data sets of French entrepreneurs with a cross-sectional analysis of individuals. Our findings show that indeed, the risks of burnout have increased during the pandemic and that the threat of bankruptcy is the dominant threat. As an increasing number of studies in the entrepreneurship literature indicate that entrepreneurs’ mental health influences their activities, as well as the growth and sustainability of their ventures, our study is important and timely in its contribution, as it takes a close look at the perception of burnout in general and more specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plain English Summary: The risk of burnout in French entrepreneurs has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which calls for not only financial support but also other forms of support. The COVID-19 pandemic presents many threats for entrepreneurs since their business survival is often directly at stake. These threats are not just financial but also related to health, such as the threat of burnout. The findings of our study show that for French entrepreneurs, the threat of burnout increased after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. This finding raises the question whether this outcome is due to the threat to health, the effects of the lockdown, or the threat of bankruptcy. It appears that all three factors play important roles, although the financial threat is the dominant threat. These findings call for the extension of entrepreneurial support systems beyond the financial area by also involving an “entrepreneurship care” aspect, which includes telephone support, webinars, and mental help facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-739
Number of pages23
JournalSmall Business Economics
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present research was supported by LabEx Entreprendre of the Université de Montpellier (Montpellier Management, MOMA), which is funded by the French government (LabEx Entreprendre, ANR-10-Labex-11-01), by the public research center Montpellier Research in Management (EA 4557, Université de Montpellier) and by a grant from Erasmus University Rotterdam called the Research Excellence Initiative (REI 2015). During the 2020 lockdown, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the departments of Côte d’Or, Hérault, Morbihan, Saône and Loire, and Pyrénées Orientales, the Chamber of Agriculture of Saône-et-Loire, and the Chamber of Commerce and Handicraft of the department of Vendée participated in setting up the Enquête Nationale COVID-19 of 2020. The authors would like to thank Harmonie Mutuelle (groupe VYV), the Conféderation des PME (CPME), and the members of the Observatoire Amarok for their input and participation. They would like to dedicate their project to the memory of Bernard Stalter, president of CMA France, who died during the COVID-19 crisis. We acknowledge the important input of the participants of the virtual paper development workshop “Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Entrepreneurship and Small Firms,” as well as the invaluable advice of the anonymous referees.

Funding Information:
The present research was supported by LabEx Entreprendre of the Universit? de Montpellier (Montpellier Management, MOMA), which is funded by the French government (LabEx Entreprendre, ANR-10-Labex-11-01), by the public research center Montpellier Research in Management (EA 4557, Universit? de Montpellier) and by a grant from Erasmus University Rotterdam called the Research Excellence Initiative (REI 2015). During the 2020 lockdown, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the departments of C?te d?Or, H?rault, Morbihan, Sa?ne and Loire, and Pyr?n?es Orientales, the Chamber of Agriculture of Sa?ne-et-Loire, and the Chamber of Commerce and Handicraft of the department of Vend?e participated in setting up the Enqu?te Nationale COVID-19 of 2020. The authors would like to thank Harmonie Mutuelle (groupe VYV), the Conf?deration des PME (CPME), and the members of the Observatoire Amarok for their input and participation. They would like to dedicate their project to the memory of Bernard Stalter, president of CMA France, who died during the COVID-19 crisis. We acknowledge the important input of the participants of the virtual paper development workshop ?Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Entrepreneurship and Small Firms,? as well as the invaluable advice of the anonymous referees.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

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