Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Growth and Performance
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Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Growth and Performance

Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Hans Landström, Hans Crijns, Eddy Laveren and David Smallbone

This book provides an invaluable, state-of-the-art overview of current European research in the field of entrepreneurship. It focuses on four themes, each of which illustrates a key dimension in the overall theme: • entrepreneurs and their role in entrepreneurship • entrepreneurship in family businesses • performance of new ventures and • entrepreneurial processes.
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Chapter 3: The Hunt for the Heffalump Continues: Who is the Flemish Entrepreneur?

Eva Cools


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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