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Classifying coping among entrepreneurs: is it about time?

Bronwyn Eager (Swinburne Business School, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Sharon L. Grant (Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Alex Maritz (La Trobe Business School, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 8 October 2018

Issue publication date: 7 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore whether descriptions of functional coping strategies among entrepreneurs vary along temporal dimensions, from reactive or present oriented, to anticipatory or future oriented. Future-oriented coping is largely unexplored in stress and coping studies in the entrepreneurship literature, despite evidence that a future time perspective is advantageous for entrepreneurs.


This study adopts an exploratory, qualitative approach: interviews were conducted with 22 entrepreneurs and coping strategies were classified, via thematic analysis, according to function, then time orientation.


Results confirmed that entrepreneurs’ coping strategies can be classified according to conventional functional taxonomies of coping that emphasize form (affective, behavioral, cognitive) and direction (change, adapt, disengage), but additionally suggested that time orientation may be an important dimension for classifying coping strategies in the entrepreneurship context.

Practical implications

The findings inform the assessment of coping strategies in future research on stress, coping and strain among entrepreneurs. In particular, researchers should assess temporal dimensions of coping alongside the functional dimensions which have been emphasized in past research. Assessment of meaningful dimensions of coping is necessary to identify adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies in future research. Knowledge of adaptive coping strategies among entrepreneurs can inform coping skills interventions for stress resilience.


This study makes a unique contribution to the emergent body of literature on stress and coping among entrepreneurs by utilizing both functional and temporal coping taxonomies to identify relevant dimensions of coping for study in this context.



Eager, B., Grant, S.L. and Maritz, A. (2019), "Classifying coping among entrepreneurs: is it about time?", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 486-503.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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