Edited by Elizabeth Chell and Mine Karataş-Özkan
Chapter 10: Predictions of entrepreneurial behavior: a personality approach
The personality approach to entrepreneurship intends to show the relationship between personality traits and entrepreneurial behavior such as opportunity recognition, and outcomes such as business creation and business success. Studies in this tradition aimed to identify the most important personality characteristics and, moreover, aimed to understand the conditions under which these traits predict entrepreneurial behavior. Personality theory is one of the classical approaches to explain the activities of enterprising individuals. One reason for this interest is based on early economic theorizing about the role of entrepreneurship in economic growth. For example, Schumpeter (1935) explained economic growth by innovations that destroy equilibrium conditions. The agents of this creative destruction are entrepreneurs that are characterized by innovativeness, foresight, dominance and a desire to create a kingdom (Utsch, Rauch, Rothfuss, & Frese, 1999). Knight (1921) described entrepreneurship as decision-making under uncertainty. McClelland (1961) introduced achievement motivation theory in order to explain economic growth. And even more recent economic theorizing that stressed the role of market disequilibrium and knowledge asymmetries introduced the alertness construct to explain which people recognize business opportunities (Kirzner, 1997). This early interest in personality characteristics was also picked up in numerous books and articles in the popular press describing success stories of entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Oprah Winfrey. Nevertheless, the scientific community has criticized the personality approach heavily during the eighties (Chell, 1985; Brockhaus & Horwitz, 1986; Gartner, 1988). Several issues have stimulated the critique.
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