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1.11 The Entrepreneurial Personality

Then there are those who will argue that becoming an entrepreneur and a successful entrepreneur is all about personality. We do believe having a personality compatible with entrepreneurial life is critical. But that compatibility often is contextually bound, depending on the idea, the market, and the culture in which one finds oneself operating. Frequently, it is argued that entrepreneurs are risk takers and innovators, but in many cases that is not the case. We acknowledge that there are certain personality types and motivational styles often associated with entrepreneurship in Europe, the United States, and some of the former British Empire. We also know that Persian Jews turned to entrepreneurial activity as that was the only one available to them in a conservative Muslim environment.

These personality factors, however, may not be consistent in their impact in other cultures such as Asia, Latin America, or Africa. There is some indication that there are even gender differences across cultures. What this says is that the issue of what is a unique entrepreneurial personality is not a simple answer. What we have learned is that what personality and motivational factors that make someone successful as an entrepreneur are the same as those that make one a successful pilot, scientist, or academic (Carsrud and Brännback 2011).

We know from years of psychological research that the characteristics of a successful entrepreneurs in the United States and most of Europe are the same kind of characteristics found in any ambitious persons, whether lawyer, doctor, airline pilot, that is, who are good at their professions. We know that there are high levels of some of the different components of achievement motivation for all of these. What we also know is that pattern may be different in different cultures when it comes to entrepreneurs. One component that seems to be consistent is the desire to work hard. Another is the willingness to learn new and different things. The role of a competitive personality seems to vary by cultural context as does the interaction of these factors with each other. In other words, if you have what it takes to be a good scientist, lawyer, academic, pilot, or other professional, you most likely have what it takes motivationally to be an entrepreneur.

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