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Entrepreneurship and ADHD

Entrepreneurship & Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Large-Scale Study Involving the Clinical Condition of ADHD
OCTOBER 2017 DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES

IZA DP No. 11105
Dan Lerner
Ingrid Verheul
Roy Thurik

Any opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and not those of IZA. Research published in this series may
include views on policy, but IZA takes no institutional policy positions. The IZA research network is committed to the IZA
Guiding Principles of Research Integrity.
The IZA Institute of Labor Economics is an independent economic research institute that conducts research in labor economics
and offers evidence-based policy advice on labor market issues. Supported by the Deutsche Post Foundation, IZA runs the
world’s largest network of economists, whose research aims to provide answers to the global labor market challenges of our
time. Our key objective is to build bridges between academic research, policymakers and society.
IZA Discussion Papers often represent preliminary work and are circulated to encourage discussion. Citation of such a paper
should account for its provisional character. A revised version may be available directly from the author.

Entrepreneurship & Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Large-Scale Study Involving the Clinical Condition of ADHD

A growing conversation has emerged linking ostensibly dark or pathological individuallevel
characteristics to entrepreneurship. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
emerged as a proof-of-concept phenomenon. Recent studies in entrepreneurship journals
have made great strides – articulating the theoretical relevance of ADHD-type behavior in
entrepreneurship, and suggesting a positive link consistent with narratives in the popular
press. While the recent research has made important inroads, quantitative studies have
yet to empirically examine ADHD in line with its theoretical roots and definition – as a
full-blown clinical disorder. The present paper contributes by providing a theoreticallyempirically
aligned test of the connection between clinical ADHD and entrepreneurial
intention as well as action.
JEL Classification: L26, I12
Keywords: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, nascent
venturing, entrepreneurial intentions, entrepreneurial action

1. INTRODUCTION
By the end of the 20th century, the entrepreneurship literature had built a body of
knowledge on logical, generally positive, factors associated with business venturing such as
human capital, financial capital, cognitive biases, traditional traits differentiating entrepreneurs
(Shane, 2003). Building on that tradition, in the present 21st century, scholars have made great
strides in advancing entrepreneurship theory – covering many other factors associated with
venturing such as regulatory-focus (Tumasjan & Braun, 2012; Hmieleski & Baron, 2008), affect
and passion (Baron et al., 2012; Cardon et al., 2012; Gielnik et al., 2017). Recently, a relatively
new and growing conversation has emerged – that involving conventionally dark or pathologized
constructs that may be positively associated with entrepreneurship. Among the most prominent,
and previously suggested in the popular press (Archer, 2014; The Economist, 2012), is Attention
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Characterized by behavioral disinhibition, ADHD is
indicated by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and problems with attentional regulation (APA, 2013).
The theoretical and practical relevance of the above to entrepreneurship has recently been
discussed (Verheul et al., 2015; 2016; Thurik et al., 2016; Wiklund et al., 2016a; 2016b; 2017;
Miller & Le Brenton-Miller, 2016; Lerner, 2016; Antshel, 2017; Canits et al., 2018). In
particular, a number of studies drawing on the ADHD literature have emerged, suggesting a
positive association between ADHD related behavior and entrepreneurship, including an
increased likelihood of entrepreneurial intentions (Verheul et al., 2015; Canits et al., 2018),
venturing (Verheul et al., 2016) and orientation (Thurik et al., 2016). These and related studies
provide an important point of departure for the present investigation. In essence they deal with
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behavioral tendencies that at the high-end of the spectrum might be indicative of ADHD or other
(possibly comorbid) disorders. With limited exception (discussed later), recent empirical
research, while grounded in the clinical literature of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,
has yet to empirically examine actual ADHD – a diagnosed clinical disorder. In other words,
while predicated on prior research on the clinical condition of ADHD, the emerging link with
entrepreneurship has yet to examine whether actual ADHD is significantly linked to a higher
propensity for entrepreneurial intention and action. We contribute to recent theory about a
positive ADHD–entrepreneurship link by providing a simple theoretically—empirically aligned
test of the connection between actual ADHD and entrepreneurship.
The present work offers a number of contributions. It generally foments the emergent
scholarly interest in the link between mental conditions and entrepreneurship (Hatak et al., 2016;
2017; Wiklund et al., 2017) – by focusing on a common condition that affects hundreds of
millions of adults world-wide (de Graaf et al., 2008), and that may be over-represented in
entrepreneurial environments. Specifically, we go beyond recent research relating ADHD-related
behavior to entrepreneurship (Lerner, 2016; Verheul et al., 2015; 2016; Thurik et al., 2016;
Wiklund et al., 2016b; Canits et al., 2018). Based on the reported large-scale study involving
actual ADHD, we directly test whether ADHD is linked to an increased propensity for both
entrepreneurial intention and action. In conjunction with related entrepreneurship research, this
offers a novel basis for entrepreneurship theory, future research, and practice.

2. ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD)

2.1 Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – The Condition
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a common clinical condition, defined by
impulsive, hyperactive, and inattentive behavior (APA, 2013), affecting individuals of all ages
4
worldwide. With a full discussion of clinical diagnostic criteria beyond the scope of this paper,
for ADHD to exist, the impulsive, hyperactive, and inattentive behavior must be pervasive,
enduring, and – to an age inappropriate frequency and magnitude – materially impairing normal
functioning (APA, 2013). Adult ADHD is well established in scientific literature (Barkley et al.,
2008; Kessler et al., 2005; 2007) and is known to affect organizations and vocational behavior
(Bozionelos and Bozionelos, 2013; de Graaf et al., 2008; Halbesleben et al., 2013; Kessler et al.,
2009).
Like other disorders, ADHD is diagnosed by a licensed clinician (e.g. a clinical
psychologist or psychiatrist), based on a battery of psychological tests and other data. It also
requires differential diagnosis, meaning that the clinician must judge that the behavior and
impairment consistent with ADHD is not attributable to another cause (e.g. mania, substance
abuse, or say distractibility and impulsivity caused by a lack of sleep or being in the midst of a
difficult divorce). Suffice to say, there is no single test, let alone any simple psychometric
measure, able to determine if an individual has ADHD.
ADHD is, by definition, a clinical construct and disorder that has its roots in the extensive
clinical literature, which over the past 30 years has established the validity condition (APA,
2013; Goldman et al., 1998) and the vast majority of its effects. Consistent with traditional
clinical psychology and psychiatry, in the clinical literature ADHD is considered inherently
pathological.

2.2 ADHD in Organizational Scholarship

In terms of the emerging management and entrepreneurship literature involving ADHD,
recent studies have relaxed the need to empirically consider actual ADHD (i.e., individuals with
the condition) and instead have taken a disposition-type approach (with two exceptions
5
subsequently elaborated). There are good and pragmatic reasons for this. The non-clinical
consideration of a clinical construct has allowed empirically tractable investigations and
uncovered significant, non-obvious findings – namely the positive association between ADHDtype
behavior and entrepreneurship.
There are two noteworthy exceptions. First, the recent study of Wiklund, Patzelt, and
Dimov (2016) illustrates and provides insight into how 14 Swedish entrepreneurs with ADHD
‘behave’. Their work demonstrates the entrepreneurial relevance of having ADHD. In line with
its qualitative design and contribution, the study cannot speak to – but rather further motivates –
the need to understand whether there is a significant positive connection between ADHD and
entrepreneurship (whether ADHD significantly increases the likelihood of venturing). The
second partial exception comes from Verheul et al. (2016) study linking individuals’ continuous
scores on an ADHD screener (the ASRS v1.1) to their self-employment status in two datasets.
Specifically, Verheul et al. (2016) performed a sensitivity analysis where individuals were
screened as positive or negative for ADHD based on their ASRS score. Linking the dichotomous
(positive vs. negative) screening variable to self-employment, the authors find that the positive
association between ADHD (type behavior) and self-employment holds.
For organizational research involving ADHD to advance, however, there is an issue. While
empirically not studying actual ADHD, the extant entrepreneurship research imported ADHD
from the clinical literature, including a short screening tool1 for identifying individuals for
possible clinical referral/evaluation. We appreciate that this can be entirely appropriate,
depending on the research question, the state of (incipient) knowledge, and research constraints.
1 Unlike self-report psychometric scales commonly used in management research to measure latent non-clinical
constructs, the ASRS (Kessler et al., 2005; 2007) was designed and validated to simply screen individuals for
subsequent in-person evaluation by practicing clinicians.
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The present concern and hitherto limitation is the absence of a large-scale basis to consider
whether the reported connection with entrepreneurship is true if considering actual Attention
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Thus, the unresolved issue with the extant theory and research,
suggesting a positive ADHD—entrepreneurship link, is that it has been built on, and is
fundamentally grounded in, the clinical literature (applying a clinical construct and using a
screening tool) – without yet comparing individuals with and without the condition of ADHD.
Toward building a sound literature, we need to understand if the recently suggested
positive connection between ADHD and entrepreneurship is veridical in the sense that this
relationship holds when using the strict definition of ADHD – i.e., operationalizing it
dichotomously as the diagnosed conditioned it fundamentally is. Based on the empirical and
theoretical origins of ADHD, finding a positive link between the diagnosed condition and
entrepreneurship would substantially bolster the emerging conversation. Specifically, this would
validate recent entrepreneurship theory and findings that, although they involve clinical
literature, yet have not empirically treated and linked Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder to
entrepreneurship. Thus, extending recent research that has examined a behavioral disposition that
at one end of the spectrum might be indicative of ADHD (Lerner, 2016; Thurik et al., 2016;
Verheul et al., 2015; 2016; Wiklund et al., 2016b), true to the grounding literature and ADHD
construct, we focus on the actual condition of ADHD.
2.3 ADHD and Entrepreneurial Intention
Notwithstanding a greater ultimate interest in entrepreneurial action (versus intention), an
important starting point for the scholarly consideration of a connection between ADHD and
entrepreneurship is provided by Verheul et al. (2015). It is the first large-scale scientific inquiry
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focusing on the topic. Sampling of over 13,000 university students, Verheul et al. (2015) link a
continuous indicator of ADHD-like behavior to entrepreneurial career intentions.2
We begin by first asking if the apparent ADHD – entrepreneurial intentions link indeed
exists when considering the actual clinical condition. It is hitherto unclear whether, within a
normal professional-oriented adult population, those who actually have ADHD show
significantly higher entrepreneurial intentions than those without this condition. Potentially
validating and extending prior research, we will empirically explore whether: (1) Individuals
with actual ADHD have higher entrepreneurial intentions than those without.
2.4 ADHD and Venturing/Entrepreneurial Action
Individual entrepreneurial action is central to entrepreneurship; without such “there would
simply be no entrepreneurship and no new ventures” (Baron, 2007: 167). Considering ADHD as
a clinical condition affecting individual behavior, we acknowledge that it could have opposing
effects on one’s propensity to undertake entrepreneurial action. Although entrepreneurship is
generally perceived to involve risky, complex and innovative activities (something typically
attractive to individuals with ADHD), the reality of starting a business may be far less exciting or
motivating. In particular, starting a firm involves many tasks that are formal, protracted,
administrative, and require attention to mundane detail. Individuals with ADHD tend to struggle
with such activities, and also perceive them as less attractive (Barkley, 1997). Thus, when it
comes to starting a venture and associated activities requiring sustained attention to details,
individuals with ADHD may be apt to procrastinate such action or be otherwise distracted by
more stimulating activities (including thinking about other opportunities/venture ideas).
Following this line of reasoning, the classical pathological perspective on ADHD would suggest
2 Using a sample of 766 university workers Canits et al. (2018) find no association between academic
entrepreneurial preference and hyperactivity, and a negative one with attention deficit.
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that individuals with ADHD may be significantly less likely to venture, compared to individuals
without ADHD.
Alternatively, considering that entrepreneurship requires an action orientation (Frese, 2009;
Sarasvathy, 2001) and given that unfettered even impulsive action is central to ADHD (APA,
2013), the opposite might be true. In individuals with ADHD “act first, think later” behavior
prevails, meaning action itself is often prepotent (i.e. will be expressed in the absence of topdown
restraint) (Barkley, 1997). This suggests that, at least for experimenting with
entrepreneurship, those with ADHD may very well act without much or any forethought or
consideration of potential consequences. In this respect, ADHD’s disinhibition (Barkley, 1997;
Lerner, 2016) promotes action. Consistent with this, Wiklund et al. (2016a) document
considerable entrepreneurial activity in their study of 14 ADHD-entrepreneurs. Likewise, in their
sensitivity analysis, Verheul et al. (2016) find a positive link between a dichotomized score on
the ASRS v1.1 screener and self-employment. Though the latter can be considered stricter than
using continuous ASRS scores, ADHD diagnostic status was entirely unknown. Additionally, a
positive dichotomous score does not mean an individual has ADHD, rather that further
evaluation by a clinician might be appropriate. Hence, neither the recent extant studies nor the
extensive popular press provide conclusive empirical evidence of the central question whether
ADHD significantly increases (or decreases) the probably of venturing/entrepreneurial action.
Appreciating the ambivalent nature of ADHD, we note that early-stage venturing primarily
involves initiating entrepreneurial action. Consequently, we offer but at the same time question
the notion that individuals with ADHD – a clinical disorder – are more likely than others to
venture. We will empirically examine whether: (2) Individuals with ADHD are more likely to
venture/engage in entrepreneurial action, than those without.
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3. METHOD

To examine whether the positive ADHD – entrepreneurship connection suggested by
recent studies is in fact true when taking into account the actual disorder, a large-scale study was
undertaken. The purpose was to provide a basic straightforward examination of the connection
between the condition of ADHD (independent variable) and entrepreneurial intention (dependent
variable 1) as well as nascent venturing (dependent variable 2).
As such, we were not interested in full-time entrepreneurs or employees – but rather focus
on a population that is heterogeneous in terms of venturing activity (distinguishing between
nascent actors and non-actors) as well as career intentions (distinguishing between individuals
with and without intentions). Accordingly, and following Verheul et al. (2015), we sampled
about 9,800 university students who participated in GUESSS Netherlands 2014. Comparing the
Dutch sample with the global GUESSS sample, reported in Sieger et al. (2014), our sample was
representative in terms of age, gender, management students, and the prevalence of selfemployed
parents3
.
In relation to the research question, this sample is not intended to proxy some other
population such as entrepreneurs, and offers a number of advantages. Given the nature of the
sample and age of the respondents, the inquiry offers the advantage of capturing individuals prior
to the possibility of being forced into entrepreneurship, and prior to selection and sampling
biases that would be present in older workers. On a related note, it is important to acknowledge
that individuals with ADHD are less likely to attend university and may be pushed into
entrepreneurship via struggles with conventional employment. Thus, if significant results
3 The Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey (GUESSS) is a data set collected by an international
research consortium aimed at examining career aspirations of students in higher education. For more information,
we refer to: www.guesssurvey.org
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positively linking ADHD to entrepreneurship are found, the results may understate what would
be the effect in the general population. Hence, with the research question about whether in fact
actual ADHD significantly increases entrepreneurial propensity (and not about providing a
specific parameter estimate of a well-established effect generalizable to the overall population),
the sample likely offers a conservative test of the fundamental relationship in question.
The data collection included the following variables: 1) Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder – yes/no to whether the individual had the diagnosed condition of ADHD; 2)
Entrepreneurial Intentions – based on Linan and Chen (2009) and for robustness and replication,
also operationalized dichotomously with post-secondary career intention (Verheul et al., 2015);
3) Venturing/Entrepreneurial Action – operationalized as whether the individual was in the
process of starting or already running a venture; 4) Control variables – gender, age, selfemployed
parents, academic performance, management as field of study. These controls were
included based on their consistency with prior entrepreneurship research. Considering the
sample, the latter two adjust for the potential effects of academic performance or area of study.
In terms of ADHD, 4.2% reported having the diagnosed condition4
. This is comparable to
the adult ADHD community prevalence rate of 5% in the Netherlands (de Graaf, et al., 2008)
and more broadly to the 3.4% across 10 countries according to World Health Organization
studies (de Graaf, et al., 2008). That said, the following issues may arise when collecting the
data. First, there is the possibility of under-reporting: some individuals with ADHD might
falsely report that they do not have the condition, for example because they fear stigmatization.
Such false-negatives would reduce an already very minority base-rate and add noise to the
4 ADHD is associated with genetics and stable neurological differences (physical brain-structure and neurotransmitters).
Individuals previously diagnosed that may no longer meet diagnostic criteria, whether per taking medication or for other reasons,
are often considered in-remission. In relation to the current research, bifurcation between ADHD diagnosed individuals currently
meeting diagnostic criteria and those who could be clinically considered in-remission, it is neither realistic (as it would require
individual clinical evaluations by psychiatrists or clinical psychologists) nor is it essential for our basic research question.
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empirical testing – increasing the likelihood null-effects (and Type-II error), and decreasing the
likelihood of significant results. Second, in terms of possible over-reporting, there was no reason
for undiagnosed individuals to falsely report an ADHD diagnosis in the data collection. Also, the
rate of 4.2% does not suggest an over-reporting problem. Third, undiagnosed individuals who
would qualify for a diagnosis do not lead to spurious positive results but rather would make any
true positive effect more difficult to detect. Finally, it is possible that some of the diagnosed
individuals take ADHD medication (or may be considered “in remission” by a clinical
psychologist/psychiatrist); however the implications of such are beyond the scope of our central
research question. Furthermore, as not bifurcating diagnosed individuals taking ADHD
medication from those not taking medication would not result in spurious results – and with the
recent studies cited also not controlling for possible use of medication – we do not complicate
our study by including medication. In summary, considering the above, any significant findings
would likely be conservative in nature.
4. RESULTS
The following are the results of the large-scale empirical inquiry conducted. Table 1
presents the descriptive statistics and correlations.
<< Insert Table 1 here >>
Tables 2 and 3 present the results of the standard regression analyses. We find that a
reported ADHD diagnosis positively predicts entrepreneurial intentions. This was the case
whether operationalized as a continuous variable, following Linan and Chen (2009), or as a
dichotomous variable, following Verheul et al. (2015). In terms of the readily interpretable latter
measure, individuals with ADHD were approximately 1.7 times (60-80%) more likely to have
entrepreneurial intentions (Models 1c and 1d in Table 2). This extends the findings of Verheul et
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al. (2015), assuaging the clinical-but-non-clinical disjuncture of prior research, and validating the
veridicality of the previously suggested positive link with intentions.
<< Insert Table 2 here >>
More importantly, an ADHD diagnosis positively predicts entrepreneurial action. In
particular, having actual ADHD increases the odds of venturing by almost 100%. The results
indicate that university enrolled adults with ADHD are almost two times more likely to initiate
entrepreneurial action than those without ADHD (Models 2a and 2b in Table 3). In other words,
among individuals who still have to make a vocational choice and have no need to venture, those
with the disorder of ADHD were not less or similarly likely to venture than those without the
disorder – but rather were significantly more likely to venture. Considering that individuals with
ADHD are less likely to attend post-secondary education and more likely to struggle with
conventional employment, these results may understate the true effect size relative to the overall
population. Considering the design and nature of the sample, these results do not speak to
venturing outcomes. Simply, the results provide a straightforward test and clear support for a
positive link between ADHD and entrepreneurship, attributable to individual choice versus a
vocation of last resort.
<< Insert Table 3 here >>
These results extend prior research and establish a potential upside or non-pathological
effect of a clinical disorder. Given the research question, the highly significant positive effect of
ADHD and the associated odds-ratios – indicative of a large effect – are the focus. This low total
variance explained rightfully indicates that there are myriad factors influencing whether an
individual is interested and will engage in venturing.
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Moreover, given the representative but minority frequency of individuals with ADHD
diagnoses in the sample, the overwhelming majority of the sample is non-ADHD and,
accordingly, low R2
s are not just normal but mathematically ought to be observed.
5 If around 4%
of a sample has some dichotomous condition, and many individuals without the disorder also
venture, looking at R2 is analogous to say looking how much of the total probability of engaging
in Corporate Acquisition activity is explained by a relatively uncommon predictor such as CEO
ADHD. However, the objective and research question is not about explaining the broad
preponderance of the dependent variable, but instead is about understanding whether a
theoretically meaningful, yet relatively low-base rate, predictor indeed has a significant and
material effect on the probability of nascent venturing. As such, the highly significant readily
interpretable odds-ratios, indicative of a large effect are informative and meaningful. The results
indicate that not only is the effect of ADHD statistically significant, but that it very materially
increases the odds of venturing (increases the likelihood by almost 100%, 79% after controls) –
which is at least as much as other well-established predictors such as having entrepreneur parents
(Model 2b).
5. DISCUSSION
The present paper extends recent entrepreneurship research, using a stricter
conceptualization and measurement of ADHD – that is, actual ADHD, a clinically diagnosed
condition. The results find that, in spite of ADHD’s downsides and individuals having sufficient
disorder as to be clinically diagnosed, it positively rather than negatively affects the likelihood of
5 Low R2
s are to be expected based on very limited variance in ADHD as a dichotomous predictor, especially when
attempting to predict a relatively infrequent dichotomous variable. Any relatively minority (i.e. low base-rate)
feature, whether a clinical condition or otherwise, will not explain the vast preponderance of variance in a human
activity such as entrepreneurship – considering such (as a dependent variable) is also engaged in by some of the
overwhelming majority – that is, those without the low-frequency dichotomous feature.
14
venturing. Building on prior research, this elucidates that a dark and pathologized condition can
serve as a wellspring for entrepreneurial action.
This complements the qualitative findings of Wiklund et al. (2016a) and Verheul et al.’s
(2016) quantitative findings based on dichotomized ASRS v1.1 scoring. Based on our large-scale
quantitative testing that did not preselect on either ADHD status or observable entrepreneurs, and
prior to choosing entrepreneurship as last resort, we find evidence that individuals with
diagnosed ADHD are significantly more likely to take entrepreneurial action than individuals
without such a diagnosis. It suggests the potential adaptiveness of the unequivocally pathological
– going beyond a behavioral trait such as impulsivity to a full-blown clinical disorder/diagnosis.
Our findings empirically advance emergent theory, characterized well by Wiklund et al. (2017)
with the telling title “Mental disorders in the entrepreneurship context: When being different can
be an advantage.”
Concurrently, it is important to underscore that entrepreneurial action and performance are
far from synonymous. The linkage found between ADHD and nascent venturing should
absolutely not be conflated or interpreted to suggest a positive link with business venture
performance. The reported study cannot speak to the effect of ADHD on venture performance.
Rather, it suggests the need and opportunity for future research in this direction. Certainly, in the
face of the idea that managerial tasks increase when ventures grow and performance becomes an
issue, and that the links between managerial tasks and ADHD are not obvious. Thus, the link
between ADHD and performance merits future investigation.
Additionally, it is also important to note some limitations. The simple, straightforward
design and sample used were appropriate for the critical research question of whether in fact
actual ADHD and the likelihood of entrepreneurial action are connected. The resultant
15
coefficient estimates, while likely conservative in nature for aforementioned reasons, should
however not be presumed to be broadly generalizable to other populations (Antshel, 2017; Canits
et al, 2018). Generalizability to other populations may be a question of how large the effect is.
Finally, at an even deeper level, it is important to recall that generalizability is not per say a
property of any empirical study, but rather is a question of whether a theoretical relationship
generalizes across empirical contexts (Zelditch, 1969). As our findings quite strongly ground
prior research and establish the central theorized relationship, they indicate the fruitfulness of
future research involving other populations, other designs, and more complex theory.
The present work foments and contributes to various scholarly conversations, particularly
those involving mental health or ADHD and entrepreneurship (Hatak et al., 2016; 2017; Lerner,
2016; Thurik et al., 2016; Verheul et al., 2015; 2016; Wiklund et al., 2016a; 2016b; Canits et al.,
2018). It also serves as a basis for future research. For example, the finding that individuals with
ADHD are almost two times as likely to venture, indicates the importance of further studies on
ADHD and venturing outcomes. This is particularly so once considering the otherwise
squandered human capital, the costs of business failure, and/or the many adverse outcomes
associated with unchanneled adult ADHD (such as absenteeism, unemployment, substance
abuse, incarceration).
Bolstered by the findings of our large-scale quantitative inquiry, ADHD has implications
for organizational research, practice and policy. Research implications include highlighting the
need for further study of contextual factors determining under which conditions ADHD is a
strength or a weakness, and is adaptive or counter-productive in venturing. In regards practice
and policy, understanding that mental health, and ADHD in particular, has dark and bright sides
for entrepreneurship, has various implications. For example, it suggests the opportunity for
16
research to help educators, clinicians, and even organizations focus on strengths (such as a
willingness to act, an imperturbable focus on activities of interest) and compensate for
weaknesses (such as distractibility and poor attention to detail in mundane activities). More
generally, it suggests the continued opportunity for considering other predictors potentially seen
as aberrant in respect to entrepreneurship (Hatak et al., 2016; Hmieleski & Lerner, 2016;
Wiklund et al., 2017).
Overall, the present work contributes to theory by grounding recent research positively
linking ADHD and entrepreneurship – with a large-scale quantitative examination that squarely
tests the effect of (actual) ADHD. In concert with other studies, the work establishes an emergent
entrepreneurship literature on ADHD. In doing so, it attests to broader emerging theory that
generally suggests the relevance of clinical or otherwise dark constructs in entrepreneurship.

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