How Social Incentives Prevent Critical Honesty About Players in the Entrepreneurship Support Space

Yesterday I wrote about how the elevation of unimpressive women and POCs hurts the fight for equality and I’ve written in the past about “pretangels” and the damage they do to the ecosystem. Both situations – fake investors and incapable ecosystem leaders – are able to happen for the same reason: nobody calls them out. 

And why does nobody call them out? Because the informal (and sometimes formal) incentive structures in the entrepreneurship support ecosystem do not reward honesty and critical thinking, they reward playing by the rules and patting everyone on the back. Essentially, if you don’t participate in the “mutual admiration society,” you’re likely to be punished by the system, even if all you did was make a statement of fact.

This certainly holds true for calling out bad actors in the space like pretangels and it also holds true for more mundane issues like stating that a specific grant program is poorly designed.

Until those of us who claim to be leaders in the space are able to be honest about the strengths and weaknesses – including those people and programs that are weak links – we’ll continue to have bad actors, like pretangels, and bad situations, like incompetent leaders.

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