A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Business Administration


  • Nicholas Bohnlein


Venture capital, Decision-making, Positive Illusion, entrepreneurship


This qualitative research focuses on the complexity of the decision-making process of professional venture capital investors in the United Arab Emirates. The research aimed to study the potential influence of self-enhancement, understood as positive illusion, on the venture capital decision-making process.

It seemed useful to look at professional investment decision-making through the lens of positive illusions, as it adds new knowledge to the complex and under-explored area, especially considering the different dynamics faced by venture capitalists in this young, yet fast growing and globally impacted entrepreneurial ecosystem in the United Arab Emirates. From a social point of view, the relevance of this research is twofold. The insights benefit all stakeholders within the entrepreneurial ecosystem since venture capital investors act as smart money enablers and connectors between limited partners and founders. Beyond, it emphasizes on the complexity of decision-making and stresses on the requirement of educating the general public and all professionals alike.

Data collection was conducted via semi-structured and individual interviews with venture capital investors operating in the United Arab Emirates. This research is based on grounded theory as a method of analysis of the collected data, with the aim to deepen the object of the search beyond the simple descriptive analysis.

Foremost, the results provide a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by professional investors in this nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem in relation to investment decision-making, interactions and thought processes directed at various stakeholders. Secondly, the results emphasize on the relationship between individual susceptibility towards self-enhancing, positive illusion, the individual context each
individual investor is in and the required dynamics in investment decision-making whilst operating in this nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem. Thirdly, the results also revealed mechanisms how investors suppress or even potentially eliminate positive illusion from influencing the decision-making process. Finally, a model emerged from the data highlighting the interplay and relationship between the different forms of positive illusion and its potential influence on investment decision-making, detailing how ecosystem-relevant variables impact decision-making. The ending of this thesis consists of a conclusion with recommendations to professionals as well as suggestions for further avenues of research.


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