Beckerian Distortions in Entrepreneurial Learning

Rasmus Koss Hartmann, Anders Dahl Krabbe, André Spicer

Research output: Working paperResearch


This conceptual study challenges the assumption that entrepreneurial learning increases entrepreneurial effectiveness. Entrepreneurial learning is filtered through myths about entrepreneurship brought about by the Entrepreneurship Industry. When this is the case, entrepreneurial learning can be subject to Beckerian Distortions that decrease entrepreneurial effectiveness. Beckerian Distortion is what happens in learning processes where individuals learn to re-interpret negative experiences as positive and pleasurable (Becker, 1953: Becoming a Marihuana User). With Beckerian Distortions, entrepreneurs can learn to reinterpret negative market signals as indicative of entrepreneurial progress and venture viability. This can lead to ‘learned ineffectiveness’, where entrepreneurs do learn but learn things that lead them to perform worse if they had not learned at all. Beckerian Distortions not only drive behavior that reduces performance, but can also bolster an increased sense of entrepreneurial identity, despite of the absence of positive entrepreneurial outcomes, and an increased stigmatization of non-entrepreneurial careers. This can deter exit from an (un-successful) entrepreneurial career trajectory and ‘trap’ individuals in precarious work
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSSRN: Social Science Research Network
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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