New Venture Creation Can Alleviate Suffering in the Wake of a Disaster

New research from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management finds that, in the aftermath of a disaster, individuals can successfully overcome adversity by focusing on new venture creation. In “Victim entrepreneurs doing well by doing good: Venture creation and well-being in the aftermath of a resource shock,” Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Trenton Williams, and his co-author, Dean Shepherd (Indiana University) expand on the overall understanding of the value of entrepreneurial ventures as a mechanism to help individuals overcome adversity and maintain resiliency at a time of great stress.

“Our findings show that despite the inherent risks associated with creating a new business, engagement in entrepreneurship activities could provide substantial benefit to someone who is faced with difficult environmental conditions,” said Williams. “When disasters strike, victims can benefit more when they have an active and central voice in identifying solutions to ongoing challenges.”

In the study, Williams and Shepherd used a novel approach to conduct a quantitative analysis of witness testimony included in a government inquiry into the Black Saturday Bushfire disaster in Australia in 2009. They found that victims are not always helpless but rather can benefit from being encouraged to engage in activities that allow them to help not only themselves but others, too.

Williams and Shepherd acknowledge that some individuals do require psychological interventions after experiencing a crisis however the majority of people are generally resilient and require other forms of support to help them move forward, such as resources to help them start new ventures to rebuild their communities.

The research is included in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Business Venturing.