Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

The Entrepreneurial Personality in the Context of Resources, Environment, and the Startup Process-A Configurational Approach

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

The Entrepreneurial Personality in the Context of Resources, Environment, and the Startup Process-A Configurational Approach

Article excerpt

The goal of this interdisciplinary study is to analyze the entrepreneurial personality in the context of resources, environment, and the startup process based on a configurational approach. The study focuses on the startup process. A questionnaire was developed to measure the configuration areas of personality, personal resources, environment, and organizing activities. A representative sample of 1,169 nascent entrepreneurs and new business owner-managers was examined. Three startup configurations were found which reveal different patterns of personality characteristics. These patterns are interpreted in the context of aspects of the environment, the resources, and the startup process.


The creation of a new venture is a complex and dynamic process covering numerous preparatory activities and decisions. These events can be described as person-environment interactions, which include the creation and refinement of the business idea. In our definition, the startup process begins with the first actions of the nascent entrepreneur (e.g., initial contact with a chamber of commerce or a bank) and ends with the first business activities of the new venture (e.g., launching a product/service).

This study is based on the configuration approach (Miller, 1987, 1990). When this approach is applied, the personality of nascent entrepreneurs forms one configuration area, in addition to personal resources, environment, and organizing activities.

While the importance of personality characteristics not only for startup decisions and entrepreneurial success but also for the management of the startup process for a new venture has been stressed by some authors, it has also been the subject of heavy criticism.

The objective of this study is to analyze the significance of personality characteristics in the context of resources, the environment, and startup process characteristics using the configuration approach.

Theory and Conceptual Framework

The State of Research on the "Entrepreneurial Personality" In the relevant research, the personality characteristics investigated include classic traits as well as dimensions of attitude and motive. Our study is based on this broad definition of personality (Brockhaus & Horwitz, 1986; Rauch & Frese, 2000). On this basis, the discussion below focuses on the personality characteristics, which are frequently identified as relevant to startup processes in the relevant literature.

The history of research on the relationship between personality and entrepreneurship shows noticeable parallels to the history of personality traits research in general and to the research on the relationship of personality traits to leadership (Naffziger, 1995). An earlier phase, characterized by some success in investigating personality traits in the field of entrepreneurship, was followed by a number of papers formulating a critical research perspective on the importance and measurement of personality. Newer research consists of refined theory development, the integration of research models, and, to some extent, a "comeback" of personality considerations (Rauch & Frese, 2000).

The first optimistic research phase was characterized by a somewhat successful identification of the personality characteristics of entrepreneurs. From a number of studies investigating the differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, as well as the potential predictors of entrepreneurial success, at least three relevant personality characteristics emerged (for an overview see Brockhaus, 1982): (1) high need for achievement (Begley & Boyd, 1986; Hornaday & Aboud, 1971; McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, & Lowell, 1953; Rauch & Frese, 2000); (2) internal locus of control (Brockhaus, 1982; Rotter, 1966); and (3) risk-taking propensity (Brockhaus & Horwitz, 1986; Hull, Bosley, & Udell, 1980; Timmons, Smollen, & Dingee, 1985). …

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