The mediating role of values in the relationship between religion and entrepreneurship

Cornelius A. Rietveld*, Brigitte Hoogendoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

An emerging stream of literature argues that values entail a prime channel through which belonging to a religion and entrepreneurship are related. In this study, we introduce Schwartz’s theory of basic human values to theorize on the role of values in the reciprocal relationship between belonging to a religion and entrepreneurship. Based on the motivational goal of each value, we argue that the value priorities of people belonging to a religion are opposite to these of entrepreneurs. We also go beyond earlier studies highlighting values as a prominent channel through which religion and entrepreneurship are connected by providing empirical evidence about the extent to which values mediate this relationship. By drawing on data from eight biennial survey waves (2002–2016) of the European Social Survey (32 countries), we show that individuals who belong to a religion prioritize values related to conservation higher than values related to openness to change, whereas the opposite is true for entrepreneurs. This contrast in value priorities cushions the relationship between belonging to a religion and entrepreneurship. However, both those belonging to a religion and entrepreneurs prioritize values related to self-transcendence over those related to self-enhancement. These relationships are fairly constant across the major religions in Europe, but do depend on how actively people engage in a religion and the type of entrepreneurship. Plain English Summary New evidence about how values can explain the relationship between belonging to a religion and being an entrepreneur. For many people, religion provides the moral codes by which they live and herewith it shapes individual decision-making including the choice for certain occupations. However, religions do not prescribe occupational choices directly but shape these choices indirectly. A prominent role for values in the relationship between belonging to a religion and entrepreneurship is widely acknowledged theoretically, but hardly tested empirically. In this study, we use Schwartz’ theory of basic human values to test this relationship and show that the value priorities of individuals belonging to a religion are opposite to those of entrepreneurs. Individuals who belong to a religion prioritize values related to conserving the social order higher than values related to openness to change and novelty, whereas the opposite is true for entrepreneurs. This contrast in value priorities weakens the relationship between belonging to a religion and entrepreneurship. Our findings are fairly constant across the major religions in Europe, but do depend on how actively people engage in a religion and the type of entrepreneurship. With a rapidly changing number of individuals adhering to a religion and increasing religious diversity in many European countries, our study is of practical importance by showing how these trends may have an impact on a country’s entrepreneurship rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1335
Number of pages27
JournalSmall Business Economics
Volume58
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2021

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© 2021, The Author(s).

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