Entrepreneurial Traits and Personalities
November 15, 2011 1 Comment
Mike Ryall at StrategyProfs.net shares interesting anecdotal evidence for the drive or motive power of successful entrepreneurs. He concludes with stating that
the bulk of serious research on the personal characteristics of successful entrepreneurs was done in the 80s and 90s. There seems to be little interest in this question today. Is this because it has been answered, because we don’t think it can be answered, or because we don’t think it’s important any more?
The questions are undoubtedly interesting and well taken, but the underlying question is what we mean by entrepreneurship and what we are trying to explain using this phenomenon. Is it economic issues such as market structure, the effects of the pursuit of profit through satisfying consumer wants, or the utility maximizing use of scarce resources? Is it the engineering or planning dimension of formulating the type of policy that best supports a certain social (societal?) goal? Or is it the psychological aspect of entrepreneurship in trying to understand entrepreneurs and possibly to predict who, when or where we are to expect successful entrepreneurship?
If it is the former, then these questions are at best of indirect importance. What matters is instead the function of entrepreneurship and, consequently, what effects entrepreneurship has on the economy. If it is either of the latter two, we would probably need to dig deeper into the psychology of entrepreneurship than entrepreneurial traits or real world entrepreneurs’ characteristics. Here the causal link puts entrepreneurship as the effect, and studies its mental, psychological, and contextual causes.
With this in mind, can we draw any conclusions from the questions Mike Ryall asks and the supposed change in research focus at the turn of the century? To put it more explicitly, is it the case that the community of entrepreneurship scholars has adopted a more “economic” purpose in their overall research agenda? And if this is so, what are the consequences – the potential advantages and/or disadvantages?