Article – I Am Joplin: Community Identity And Entrepreneurship After Natural Disasters

The paper I wrote with Jenni Dinger and Carla Bustamante for the 2012 SEE Conference and 2012 Babson Conference, I Am Joplin: Community Identity And Entrepreneurship After Natural Disasters, was accepted for publication in the 2012 Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. It should be available in print sometime in late 2013.

This paper explores non-financial contributors to an entrepreneur’s decision-making process regarding reinvestment following a natural disaster. Existing literature regarding natural disasters has focused on the financial determinants at the near exclusion of social-psychological variables, leaving a gap in the literature that our empirical study aims to address. We hypothesize that the rebuilding process of a business after a natural disaster is driven not only by economic considerations, but also by the extent to which an entrepreneur feels connected and entwined to her community. We measure social identity of an entrepreneur by focusing on the dimensions of group attractiveness and interdependency beliefs. Our overarching proposition is that entrepreneurs with a stronger collective social identity are more likely to rebuild following a widespread natural disaster.

We find support for our theory in a survey of 112 owners of businesses destroyed in a tornado- impacted Midwest community eight months after the natural disaster. Our results indicate that the constructs of interdependency belief and group attractiveness have a significant relationship with the entrepreneur’s decision to rebuild over and above financial considerations.

Citation: Dinger, Jennifer, Michael Conger, Carla Bustamante, 2012. “I Am Joplin: Social Identity, Entrepreneurs, and Environmental Disasters.” Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Babson College, Wellesley, MA.
Image Credit – “Restore Joplin” by Doug Wertman, used under CC BY 2 / Cropped from original