The Effect of Fragile Self-Esteem on Course Completion in Higher Education

Keywords: Course Completion, Fragile Self-Esteem, Social Comparison, Gender


Purpose: Successful completion of higher education is a significant factor of both individual and national development. Self-esteem has been neglected in previous empirical research as a constraint in course completion. We investigate this factor as a basis to develop suitable interventions.

Design/Method/Approach: We use secondary, administrative data of course completion from fully accredited Bachelor- and Master-courses at an Austrian higher education institution.

Findings: Self-Esteem, using measures of social comparison and gender as proxies, lead to reductions of successful completion of higher education.

Theoretical Implications: Internal constraints, i.e. fragile self-esteem, impacts course completion in higher education.

Practical Implications: National and educational institutions aiming at supporting students should focus on emotional support programs alongside professional support programs.

Originality/Value: We offer tentative first evidence of a novel theory on the impact of fragile self-esteem on intertemporal choices, applied to the context of higher education.

Research Limitations/Future Research: An empirical analysis of higher education performance based on a model unifying both ability and self-esteem constraints would provide an ambitious, but interesting avenue for further research.

Acknowledgement: We thank the participants of the Coffee, Cake & Research seminar in the department for Business Administration Online for insightful comments and feedback. We thank Brigitte Auer, Christina Hackhofer and Maria Pammer for helpful conversations. We thank Jochen Frühwirth for data retrieval.

Paper type: Empirical


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How to Cite
Dinter, M., Grässle, S., & Mosenhauer, M. (2022). The Effect of Fragile Self-Esteem on Course Completion in Higher Education. European Journal of Management Issues, 30(3), 131-141.
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