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Stanislav Vavilov (Fairfield University), Matthew Regele (Xavier University)


This study integrates Ignatian ethics into entrepreneurship teaching with the primary purpose of addressing dark sides of entrepreneurship (DSE). DSE, defined as negative psychological and emotional reactions from engaging in entrepreneurship, are critical but poorly recognized and understood challenges associated with the entrepreneurship process. Founding a new firm is often portrayed as a way to pursue one’s passion, accumulate wealth, and effect social change. Yet, in reality, 95% of new ventures fail. Failures can put entrepreneurs in dire financial straits and catalyze mental and physical health problems and familial issues. Employees are another group impacted by DSE. Although some studies found that startup employment is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, others highlight high stress levels and lower earnings that persist throughout employees’ careers. The impacts of DSE also extend to broader society. Although startups are frequently portrayed as job creators, these jobs are not necessarily net gains, but rather may replace jobs in established firms. In sum, DSE affect all stakeholders involved in the entrepreneurship process and are especially harmful for first-time entrepreneurs, including student entrepreneurs, who usually do not have experiential understanding of the challenges and often do not possess tools to address them. Although academic research has begun to expose DSE, common approaches to teaching entrepreneurship can exacerbate the dark sides. Entrepreneurship pedagogy continues to focus almost exclusively on developing skills and knowledge related to identifying opportunities, raising investments, and reaching customers. It pays almost no attention to potential negative consequences for entrepreneurs, employees, local economies, and the environment. Our study addresses these gaps and contributes to entrepreneurship pedagogy by developing an Ignatian Pedagogical Principles-based entrepreneurship education model that integrates DSE into teaching, enables students to recognize psychological, well-being, and social problems that accompany entrepreneurship, and provides them with tools to overcome these problems as future entrepreneurs and as individuals who walk alongside other entrepreneurs. The model draws upon and extends our Ignatian heritage in several ways. For example, to address the entrepreneur as a person, the model is guided by cura personalis that helps students understand not just how to be an entrepreneur, but what it would mean to be an entrepreneur. To address other relevant stakeholders, the model emphasizes solidarity and kinship and service rooted in justice and love. For example, we identify exercises that help students reflect on both who they engage with as entrepreneurs and the goals they hope to achieve. These exercises emphasize walking with the poor and marginalized in order to understand their perspectives and to use entrepreneurship to generate inclusive growth and address social and environmental issues. We expect this approach will help address several employee- and society-level DSE by helping students seek out ways to create meaningful jobs, promote equality, and effectively address social problems. Our model is designed to integrate into entrepreneurship curricula in Jesuit and non-Jesuit universities, as well as other entrepreneurship support organizations.