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Effect of Comfort Zone on Entrepreneurship Potential, Innovation Culture, and Career Satisfaction

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division – Program Development & Desired Outcomes

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.575.1 - 26.575.13



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Paper Authors


Ikhlaq Sidhu University of California, Berkeley

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Ikhlaq Sidhu is the Chief Scientist and Founding Director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology. Prof. Sidhu also developed and founded the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership. He received the IEOR Emerging Area Professor Award from his department at Berkeley. He has been granted over 60 US Patents in networking technology, IP telephony, and mobile computing. He was awarded 3Com Corporation's “Inventor of the Year” in 1999. Dr. Sidhu also serves as a Senior Fellow of the Applied Innovation Institute and as a Venture Advisor at Onset Ventures, a leading Silicon Valley investment firm.

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Paris Deletraz IE Business School

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Dr. Deletraz is Professor of Entrepreneurship and runs the Venture Lab at IE Business School

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    Effect of Comfort Zone on Entrepreneurship Potential, Innovation Culture, and Career Satisfaction  Abstract:In this paper, we show preliminary relationships between a person’s comfort, zone asmeasured on a newly developed CZone Scale, has significant correlation with theirpotential as an entrepreneur or innovator. “Comfort Zone” is a behavioral state withinwhich a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviorsto deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk (White 2009).Our preliminary data (based on the order of approximately 1000 samples) shows that thepotential of an entrepreneur or innovator is much more strongly correlated with highertolerance for ambiguity than it is with field of study. We also find that this criticalindicator of entrepreneurial potential is linked with ability to learn and growprofessionally, and that comfort with ambiguity is even an indicator of a person’sperception of overall career satisfaction and personal happiness. We also find twoparticularly interesting characteristics; 1) that comfort with ambiguity in professionaldecisions does not have to be the same as comfort with ambiguity in personal situations,and 2) that a person’s comfort with ambiguity can change in both directions over thecourse of a person’s life and career, and in fact entrepreneur tend to increase theircomfort with ambiguity over their career, which is not true of non-entrepreneurs.Our preliminary findings have implications on how entrepreneurship is taught, on how totest for entrepreneurial and innovation potential, and even what types of individual-levelbehaviors are most critical to increase the innovation culture of an organization. Ourstudy supports a position that not only can students and employees be screened for thesefundamental characteristics, but also that this ability can even be developed, grown, andreinforced. This study further reinforces a hypothesis that that seminal entrepreneurshipand innovation skills can actually be learned.        

Sidhu, I., & Deletraz, P. (2015, June), Effect of Comfort Zone on Entrepreneurship Potential, Innovation Culture, and Career Satisfaction Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23913

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