Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by Hans Landström, Hans Crijns, Eddy Laveren and David Smallbone
Chapter 3: The Hunt for the Heffalump Continues: Who is the Flemish Entrepreneur?
3. The hunt for the Heﬀalump continues: who is the Flemish entrepreneur? Eva Cools INTRODUCTION Given the importance of entrepreneurial activities for economic growth, wealth creation, business expansion and technological progress, numerous studies on entrepreneurship exist (Wickham, 2004). These studies seek to understand how opportunities are discovered, created and exploited, by whom and with what consequences (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000). To answer the question ‘who is an entrepreneur’, researchers tried to identify the unique characteristics of an entrepreneur by borrowing concepts from the trait psychology domain (Landström, 1999; Shook et al., 2003). Although this has been one of the earliest and most frequently visited domains in the history of entrepreneurship research, it failed to answer this key question (Sadler-Smith, 2004). Research that has tried to identify attitudes, traits, behaviors or characteristics of entrepreneurs did not yield unequivocal ﬁndings (Cromie, 2000). However, as some scholars contend, it remains worthwhile to study the entrepreneurial proﬁle as there is no entrepreneurship without the entrepreneur (Hisrich, 2000; Steyaert, 2004). Consequently, the aim of the research project in this chapter is to get more insight into what typiﬁes Flemish entrepreneurs and what distinguishes them from non-entrepreneurs. Given the criticism on the trait approach, this study diﬀers from previous studies on the proﬁle of the entrepreneur in two respects. Firstly, we add a cognitive perspective, beside the trait approach. The fairly recent adoption of the cognitive perspective in entrepreneurship research seems a promising evolution to continue answering the ‘who is...
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