Perceived psychological distance, construal processes, and abstractness of entrepreneurial action

H. Shawna Chen, Ronald K. Mitchell, Keith H. Brigham, Roy Howell, Robert Steinbauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In this paper we develop the concept of abstractness as an underlying theoretical structure of entrepreneurial action, specifically to connect individual perception of psychological distance to entrepreneurial action. We draw on construal level theory to model distance and abstractness, using construal as the mechanism where, in new venture creation, entrepreneurs are expected over time to engage in more abstract action when they perceive greater psychological distance. Based on longitudinal data from 350 entrepreneurs, results from cross-lagged panel analysis indicate that psychological distance shapes the actions of entrepreneurs over time through social distance and hypotheticality. These findings advance entrepreneurial action research, practice, and pedagogy by showing that the apparently implicit relationship between entrepreneurial perception and entrepreneurial action may actually be quite explicit, when abstractness of action is seen as a construal-mechanism-based function of psychological distance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-314
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Construal level theory
  • Cross-lagged panel analysis
  • Entrepreneurial action
  • Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics (PSED)


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