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How Spirituality Shapes the Formation of Entrepreneurial Venture: The Case of Malay Muslim Entrepreneurs

Studies have shown that spirituality in the workplace can positively impact the performance of individuals, work units, and organisations. What once was thought to be just a short-lived trend has now grown into an established field of study. The establishment of the special interest group for Management, Spirituality, and Religion by the Academy of Management for instance shows that spirituality is more than just a passing fad. While research on spirituality and management continue to flourish, one particular area of study that has been given less attention to spirituality is entrepreneurship. Spirituality is less likely to be considered by the traditional entrepreneurship literature in driving the behaviours of entrepreneurs. Rather, the current literature has focused on wealth creation as the entrepreneur’s driving force. Hence, researchers have turned to various approaches such as economics, personality psychology, and strategy in attempt to understand the relationship between entrepreneurs and new venture creation, which have been less successful in dealing with the more micro question of ‘how’ and ‘why’. This warrants for new approaches that can explain the relationship between the entrepreneur and new venture formation, which spirituality can offer. The purpose of this study is to examine and understand the phenomenon of entrepreneurial venture creation from the perspective of Muslim entrepreneurs. As the second largest religion in the world, Islam is often subject to stereotyping and misunderstanding due to its approximately 1.6 billion followers globally with wide ranging levels of religious commitment and practice. The complexity of the relationship between religious values and cultural values further complicates the explanation of the behaviours of Muslim entrepreneurs. In addition to the sparsity of research on the diversity and forms of values and spirituality in organisations, most spirituality studies are currently based on the Western value systems; hence the need for non-western value systems based studies. The overarching research question for this study is: “How does spirituality shape the formation of entrepreneurial venture?”. Three sub-questions were developed to support this important research question, that are: 1) what are the key sources of entrepreneurial opportunity for Muslim entrepreneurs? 2) how do Muslim entrepreneurs understand entrepreneurial opportunity? 3) how are the Islamic spiritual values manifested in the Muslim entrepreneurs’ process of venture formation? Using an interpretive paradigm, qualitative research was conducted, whereby 15 entrepreneurs were interviewed using narrative interview questions. Stories on how these entrepreneurs started their ventures were analysed. Findings revealed that the Muslim entrepreneurs sourced their entrepreneurial opportunities from two types of gaps. While missing products or services in the market prompted the first type of gap, the second type of gap was due to the difference between the entrepreneurs’ expectations (that are guided by their knowledge on the Shariah) and the reality. These two gaps led the entrepreneurs to embark on three different paths of process of venture creation, that are 1) accidentally found opportunity, 2) actively seeking for opportunity, and 3) spiritually-driven opportunity. In realising the opportunities that they discovered or created, the Muslim entrepreneurs manifested five important Islamic spiritual values: fardhu kifayah (communal obligation), wasatiyyah (balanced), barakah (blessings), amanah (trust), and dakwah (the call of joining the good and forbidding the bad). This study extends understanding of entrepreneurial behaviour involved in the process of venture formation by presenting an empirical evidence-based framework. This framework incorporates sources that trigger entrepreneurial opportunities, the micro and macro processes that entrepreneurs experienced in creating their ventures, and the dimensions of spirituality that are manifested in realising the opportunities. Secondly, this study informs the role of spirituality in the process of entrepreneurial venture creation in sourcing, evaluating, and enacting the opportunities. This study can benefits the educators and entrepreneurs as it highlights the potential of non-economic rationality in driving entrepreneurial behaviours that lead to venture creation.
Type of thesis
Sidek, F. (2016). How Spirituality Shapes the Formation of Entrepreneurial Venture: The Case of Malay Muslim Entrepreneurs (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10825
University of Waikato
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