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Edited by David B. Audretsch, Oliver Falck, Stephan Heblich and Adam Lederer
29 The genetics of entrepreneurship Nicos Nicolaou and Scott Shane INTRODUCTION Perhaps the most common question that practitioners ask about entrepreneurship is ‘Are entrepreneurs born or made?’ Unfortunately, despite more than 40 years of research, scholars have only recently tried to provide an answer to this question. Using the techniques of behavioral genetics, researchers have begun to explore whether there is an innate component in entrepreneurial activity. Despite the newness of the effort, this investigation has had significant influence on the field of entrepreneurship, as exemplified by this chapter. Initial studies show that some portion of the identification of entrepreneurial opportunities, the tendency to be an entrepreneur and entrepreneurial performance are genetic. Therefore, while handbooks on entrepreneurship have not traditionally considered the genetics of entrepreneurship, recent discoveries necessitate this discussion. This chapter reviews the recent findings on the genetics of entrepreneurship. It examines the evidence for the effect of genes on opportunity discovery, the tendency to start a business and entrepreneurial performance. It identifies the different ways genes are thought to affect entrepreneurial activity. It reviews the methodologies used by researchers to identify genetic effects; and it outlines the direction of future research in this area. Finally, the chapter draws implications from these results for both research and practice. THE EVIDENCE FOR THE HERITABILITY OF ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITY Heritability measures how much genetic factors influence a phenomenon of interest; it identifies the percentage of difference in observed behavior that is the result of genetic factors (psych.colorado.edu, 2009). If something has...
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