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Stephanie Schoss, René Mauer and Malte Brettel

There is a growing body of research that focuses on dispositional personality–related characteristics of founding team members as leading indicators of new venture success. For empirical analysis in this research, 16 personality-related characteristics were selected relevant to entrepreneurship literature and practice, and their importance examined with regard to the composition of entrepreneurial teams. The research setting consisted of a start-up simulation comprising 1200 students with backgrounds in engineering and business who were randomly assigned to teams of five. The method of cluster analysis served to develop a better understanding of which personality characteristics are most important to team success and how the traits cluster together to form specific team types. Besides well-studied characteristics like the need for achievement, less prominent variables like empathy and passion also appear among the personality traits that are most significant for entrepreneurial success. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that balanced individuals who simultaneously show high levels of multiple traits appear more often in unsuccessful teams, while individuals with fewer but more strongly developed traits are to be found in successful teams. Additionally, passion and need for achievement seem to be closely clustered traits, but are less likely to be present in individuals who rate high on empathy and conflict management skills. The findings of this study provide valuable insights for researchers and actionable recommendations for practitioners.