Wharton Professors Examine What Makes MBAs Happy

Happiness of entrepreneurs

Professors Matthew Bidwell and Ethan Mollick of the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania were recently acknowledged for their historic study on the happiness of entrepreneurs.

The team discovered, after surveying 11,000 MBA graduates over a span of years, that those who ended up running their own businesses ranked themselves happiest. A recent article by Martin Zwilling in Forbes noted the professors’ research, along with a list of tips for those entering the workplace as entrepreneurs.

These pieces of advice include: do what you love and love what you do; stay in the present; possess realistic expectations; prioritize family time; keep track of successes; practice positive health habits; have an outlet for stress; trust your employees; pay attention to both sides of the brain; and have an optimistic approach.

Bidwell and Mollick found through their research that business owners who created startups that weren’t initially successful even reported greater happiness with their decisions. Their study, originally published in 2012, “…contradicted the old saying that money cannot buy happiness; the more money someone earned, the happier they tended to be. The older respondents also tended to be happier than the younger ones.”

Mollick said, “People tend to view entrepreneurship as an end state… That doesn’t seem to explain what people actually do,” noting that people tend, in the real world, to fluctuate between working for someone and running their own business. One of the most striking aspects of the team’s study was the reality that in the modern economy, change is a fact of life.

Even workers with high-prestige credentials, including MBAs from schools such as Wharton, should expect to remain adaptable and should understand the necessity of reinvention in an unpredictable economy.


About the Author

Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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