Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Dubofsky, David A.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Barone, Michael J.

Committee Member

Barone, Michael J.

Committee Member

Lucas, Kristen

Committee Member

Shepherd, Dean A.


Businesspeople--Attitudes; Entrepreneurship--Moral and ethical aspects; Business ethics


Some entrepreneurs are often perceived to do almost anything to succeed and pursue self-interests while breaking moral and ethical standards. This is particularly severe when the ventures are at the early stage because entrepreneurs face scarce resources, high uncertainty and a competitive environment. It is noted that entrepreneurs' behavior of conforming business ethics and morality is profound for entrepreneurs’ firms viability. Thus, this dissertation employs self-construal theory and construal level theory and identifies how entrepreneurs’ cognitive development influences entrepreneurs to make moral decisions. In addition, I address the role of entrepreneurs’ moral identity in the focal relationships. Data were collected from 213 American and Chinese entrepreneurs whose ventures are less than six years old. I used MANCOVA and PROCESS, a tool for SPSS to analyze moderation, to test hypotheses. The results found that interdependent self-construal and distal construal interactively influenced entrepreneurs’ likelihood of making moral decision making regarding customers and entrepreneurial values. In addition, moral identity - internalization and symbolization - moderated the interactive effect of self-construal and temporal construal on moral decision making. This dissertation has implications for entrepreneurs, educators and policy makers. It provides approaches that can help entrepreneurs to enhance their moral cognitions and implies educators and policy makers can encourage entrepreneurs to establish ventures with morality.