Adding fuel to the fire

Mohammad Saud Khan (Department of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, Alpen-Adria-Universität, Klagenfurt, Austria)
Robert J. Breitenecker (Department of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, Alpen-Adria-Universität, Klagenfurt, Austria)
Erich J. Schwarz (Department of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, Alpen-Adria-Universität, Klagenfurt, Austria)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 9 February 2015



The purpose of this paper is to examine how diversity in need for achievement (nfA) a well-established entrepreneurial personality trait impacts team performance (effectiveness and efficiency) in Austria. In addition, it investigates the interaction effects of Team Mean nfA and relationship conflicts on the nfA diversity-performance relationship.


Data originated from 44 entrepreneurial teams based in nine business incubators in Austria. Partial least squares structural equation modelling was used to estimate the model.


Results indicate that, in general, nfA diversity has a negative impact on entrepreneurial team effectiveness and efficiency. However, acknowledging the importance of nfA for being entrepreneurial, diversity in nfA could improve team effectiveness when the prevailing team nfA (mean) is low. The dysfunctional role of relationship conflicts for entrepreneurial team performance is confirmed; nonetheless, similarity in nfA could help teams to cope more successfully with these potentially negative consequences.


The paper puts forth one of the first empirical investigations of nfA and performance at a team level in an entrepreneurial field setting. Moreover, a contextually specific contribution of examining nfA diversity, team nfA (mean), relationship conflicts and team performance also augments team deep-level diversity and conflict literature. Finally, this study highlights that entrepreneurial teams could effectively leverage their human capital by realizing that some types of deep-level homogeneity (nfA) might prove helpful in neutralizing the damaging effects of relationship conflicts.



Khan, M., Breitenecker, R. and Schwarz, E. (2015), "Adding fuel to the fire", Management Decision, Vol. 53 No. 1, pp. 75-99.

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