An axiological measure of entrepreneurial cognition

Clifford G. Hurst (Gore School of Business, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Publication date: 21 February 2019



The purpose of this paper is to expand the recent lines of inquiry into entrepreneurial cognition by focusing on the structure of values as an important aspect of cognition. Value theory, or axiology, posits that the capacity to value and to make value judgments is a distinctly human function – one that is a higher order process than is pure cognition alone.


This study is designed as a quantitative discovery. A well-established assessment instrument from the field of value science is used to measure deep-seated, evaluative thought patterns for a sample of founders of early stage startups and a comparative sample of senior managers. Value structures underlying cognition for individuals across these samples are compared to reveal both similarities and differences between the groups.


This study identifies a cognitive process underlying opportunity recognition, evaluation and exploitation, known as integration. This study finds that entrepreneurs have stronger capacities for integrative thinking than do managers. In contrast to other published research, this study finds that early stage entrepreneurs are not characterized by hubris, an inflated sense of self-efficacy, nor an exceptional capacity for action.


This paper extends the study of entrepreneurial cognition by applying an empirical measure of the foundational levels of cognition. It reveals heretofore unarticulated differences, as well as similarities, between entrepreneurs and managers.



Hurst, C. (2019), "An axiological measure of entrepreneurial cognition", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 394-412.

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