Affective sensegiving, trust-building, and resource mobilization in start-up organizations

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Based on a four-year field study of six new ventures, we investigate whether and how founders of new firms engaged in affective sensegiving with diverse stakeholders; namely investors, board members, customers and employees. Affective sensegiving refers to founders' integrating affect in their verbal statements and actions to influence stakeholders' understanding of aspects of their young firms (including themselves). We found a subset of affective sensegiving actions - called emotional assuring - that seeks to generate stakeholders' understanding of the young firms or their leaders as displaying: 1) socially valued entrepreneurial characteristics; 2) personal caring, and 3) transparent or inclusive organizing. We show how stakeholders interpret these founders' sensegiving actions and suggest that they are likely to mobilize resources when they feel emotionally assured because they perceive trustworthiness. Our study enriches the sensegiving literature - which has mainly focused on cognition - by identifying a range of sensegiving actions that include affect and build trust. It also extends the trust literature by specifying managerial actions that build, sometimes simultaneously, cognitive as well as affective trust in the challenging context of creating new firms. Lastly, it contributes to the entrepreneurship literature by unpacking the social construction of start-up organizations through founders' use of affective sensegiving actions.
Bibliographic citation: Huy, Quy; Zott, Christoph, "Affective sensegiving, trust-building, and resource mobilization in start-up organizations", IESE, DI-863-E, 06/2010
Date: 06/2010
Author(s): Huy, Quy; Zott, Christoph
Document type: Working Paper
Languages: English