Pattern Versus Level: A New Look at the Personality-Entrepreneurship Relationship

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Purpose: By using a nontraditional configuration approach, the purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of personality on entrepreneurial intention and success. Previous research has focused on why individuals become entrepreneurs and why some are more successful than others. However, most studies have investigated only single factors or primary personality traits. The current study investigates not only the strength of the personality-entrepreneurship link, but also clarifies the nature of the relationship. Design/methodology/approach: Using two independent samples and an innovative regression-based pattern recognition procedure, the study investigates whether the nature of the personality-entrepreneurship relationship is driven by individuals’ absolute trait levels or by their idiosyncratic configuration of personality traits. The non-entrepreneur sample consisted of 225 business students in Eastern China, specializing in a variety of business subjects. The entrepreneur sample consisted of 120 business owners in a university entrepreneurial park in Eastern China. Findings: Results support hypotheses that the two different types of entrepreneurship criteria are predicted by different personality profile effects. Entrepreneurial intentions are driven by individuals’ personality patterns (peaks and valleys in profiles). In contrast, entrepreneurial success is driven by personality levels (individuals’ relative standing on personality traits compared to other entrepreneurs). Research limitations/implications: The findings enrich the understanding of entrepreneurial personality. The more significant contribution of the present study was that it differentiated between personality profile pattern and level effects and investigated whether the nature of the personality-entrepreneurship relationship is driven by individuals’ absolute trait levels (i.e. how high or low they score compared to others), or by their idiosyncratic configuration of personality traits (i.e. their strengths and weaknesses). Practical implications: The findings of this study may help entrepreneurs to figure out how to be successful running their own businesses, if they are not graced with a personality pattern that is not favorable to entrepreneurship. In addition, these findings can help entrepreneurship educators to understand how best to train entrepreneurs. Originality/value: The adoption of both person-centered approach and process perspective of entrepreneurship allowed this study to make major contributions to entrepreneurial personality research.



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