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Tall Poppy Syndrome: Implications for entrepreneurship in New Zealand

  • Jodyanne Kirkwood (a1)

Abstract

The Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) of knocking high achievers is often described as being ingrained in New Zealand's culture. This study interviews 40 entrepreneurs to explore how TPS impacts on entrepreneurs. Internationally, New Zealand is considered to be a highly entrepreneurial country. Thus TPS and an entrepreneurial culture appear to co-exist. Over half of the participants had experienced TPS in their role as entrepreneurs and their individual strategies for managing its impact included 'staying under the radar', not telling people they owned a business and not ‘flaunting’ their wealth. This study suggests that the effects of TPS may have significant implications for entrepreneurship in New Zealand. Firstly, TPS may discourage entrepreneurs from starting a business. Secondly, people who have experienced a business failure may be reluctant to establish another business because of the public reaction to their 'fall'. Finally, entrepreneurs may deliberately limit business growth because they don't want to attract attention. Potential ways of reducing the impact of TPS on entrepreneurs include celebrating entrepreneurial success more visibly, highlighting realistic role models for people to aspire to and emphasising the hard work and risk that entrepreneurs take to achieve success.

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