1.6 Entrepreneurial Personality Traits
While acknowledging that research had yet to validate the value of considering personality and behaviour traits as ways to distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs or unsuccessful ones, Chell (2008) suggested that researchers turn their attention to new sets of traits including: “the proactive personality, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, perseverance and intuitive decision-making style. Other traits that require further work include social competence and the need for independence” (p. 140).
In more recent years scholars have considered how the Big Five personality traits – extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism (sometimes presented as emotional stability), and openness to experience (sometimes referred to as intellect) – might be used to better understand entrepreneurs. It appears that the Big Five traits might be of some use in predicting entrepreneurial success. Research is ongoing in this area, but in one example, Caliendo, Fossen, and Kritikos (2014) studied whether personality constructs might “influence entrepreneurial decisions at different points in time” (p. 807), and found that “high values in three factors of the Big Five approach—openness to experience, extraversion, and emotional stability (the latter only when we do not control for further personality characteristics)—increase the probability of entry into self-employment” (p. 807). They also found “that some specific personality characteristics, namely risk tolerance, locus of control, and trust, have strong partial effects on the entry decision” (p. 807). They also found that people who scored
higher on agreeableness were more likely to exit their businesses, possibly meaning that people with lower agreeableness scores might prevail longer as entrepreneurs. When it came to specific personality traits, their conclusions indicated that those with an external locus of control were more likely to stop being self-employed after they had run their businesses for a while. There are several implications for research like this, including the potential to better understand why some entrepreneurs behave as they do based upon their personality types and the chance to improve entrepreneurship education and support services.