Beckerian Distortions in Entrepreneurial Learning

24 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2021

See all articles by Rasmus Koss Hartmann

Rasmus Koss Hartmann

Copenhagen Business School

Anders D. Krabbe

Stanford University

André Spicer

City University London - The Business School

Date Written: April 26, 2021


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

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial learning, Beckerian Distortion, distortion, effectiveness

JEL Classification: M13, Z13

Suggested Citation

Hartmann, Rasmus Koss and Krabbe, Anders D. and Spicer, André, Beckerian Distortions in Entrepreneurial Learning (April 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Rasmus Koss Hartmann (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000

Anders D. Krabbe

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

André Spicer

City University London - The Business School

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

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