Born to Be an Entrepreneur ? Revisiting the Personality Approach to Entrepreneurship

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The personality approach is one of the classical and early approaches to entrepreneurship. At the same time, it is one of the more controversial areas of research. The personality approach to entrepreneurship has been criticized in the entrepreneurship literature with the following arguments (Aldrich & Wiedenmayer, 1993; Brockhaus & Horwitz, 1985; Gartner, 1989; Low & MacMillan, 1988): Entrepreneurship requires too varied behaviors to be related to specific personality traits; personality traits are not strongly enough related to entrepreneurship to warrant further studies; and alternative views, such as ecological approaches, have been proposed that concentrate on environmental accounts. These arguments were quite effective and led to the dominant position in entrepreneurship research that works on personality traits should be discontinued (Low & MacMillan, 1988). Asimilar position seemed to exist for a while in organizational behavior and industrial/organizational psychology, as well: Here similar arguments on the lack of usefulness of personality prediction of performance (and leadership) were voiced (Guion & Gottier, 1965). Much of this started out with the book by Mischel (1968) arguing that results on personality constructs were limited by r = .30 to explain meaningful behaviors and that there was lack of cross-situational consistency in personality variables. However, over time, the tide changed and there is now a revival of personality research in performance and leadership research and in many other areas of industrial/organizational psychology too. There is now the consensus that there is ample evidence for the validity of certain personality variables for organization behavior (Barrick & Mount, 1991) and for leadership (Judge, Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt, 2002).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Psychology of Entrepreneurship
EditorsJ. R. Baum, M. Frese, R. A. Baron
Number of pages25
Place of PublicationMahwah
PublisherErlbaum Publishers
Publication date2007
ISBN (print)0-8058-5062-7, 9780805850628
ISBN (electronic)9781317613794
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes