Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Achieving Entrepreneurial Success through Passion, Vision & Courage: A Cognitive Model for Developing Entrepreneurial Intelligence

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Achieving Entrepreneurial Success through Passion, Vision & Courage: A Cognitive Model for Developing Entrepreneurial Intelligence

Article excerpt


This paper is based on a 20-year study of 234 successful entrepreneurs to develop the Entrepreneurial Intelligence Model. The science behind the three cognitive qualities of Passion, Vision and Courage, along with eight essential psychological states is based on the systematic, direct, and structured observation of successful entrepreneurs in both their natural work environment (an idiographic approach) and also through observation and discussions in controlled environmental contexts (nomotheic approach).

This paper introduces the concept of developing entrepreneurial intelligence, which is the ability to understand and utilize the three cognitive qualities of Passion, Vision and Courage in order to achieve dynamic success. Once an entrepreneur understands and begins to learn and condition each of the eight psychological states behind the three cognitive qualities: ambition, work ethic, continuous learning, innovation, using people as an asset, taking informed-risk, integrity and resilience, he or she can engage in specific action-steps to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors. The five action-steps include: generating a business idea, creating value propositions and a competitive advantage, conducting an idea merit survey, completing a feasibility analysis, and then developing a business plan.

One hundred and thirty-two entrepreneurs were used to obtain information from an idiographic approach, which is characterized by individual-centered and naturalistic environmental contexts, and by qualitatively-based direct observation data gathering techniques. After the idiographic phase of study findings, 102 additional entrepreneurs were observed from a nomothetic approach. The nomothetic approach is characterized by controlled and sometimes group-centered contexts. The entrepreneurs in this phase of the study were observed in contexts such as classroom settings, seminars, workshops, and networking functions.

It is important to note that, all of the entrepreneurs observed are extremely diverse. But despite their diversities, and while they all have unique stories, what they do have in common are the three cognitive qualities and eight psychological states introduced by of The Entrepreneurial Intelligence Model presented in this paper.


Identifying traits and behaviors of successful entrepreneurs is not new and fills much of the entrepreneurship literature. Mill (1848) is often credited with being the first to distinguish the entrepreneur from the manager, claiming that the main difference was the disposition of the entrepreneur to take risks. Schumpeter (1934) was also one of the first researchers to recognize that entrepreneurs were distinct individuals worthy of study, through their innovation and ability to take initiative.

Trait & Behavioral Approaches to Entrepreneurship

Many researchers throughout the years have identified psychological traits they believed separated entrepreneurs from everyone else such as a desire for independence (Collins & More, 1964), tolerance for uncertainty (Glennon, Albright & Owens, 1966), internal locus of control (Borland, 1974; Brockhaus, 1975; & Timmons 1978; Hornaday & Aboud, 1971), need for power (Winter, 1973), personal value-orientation (Gasse, 1977), self-confidence (Timmons, 1978), aggressiveness (Sexton 1980), creativity (Glennon, 1966; Timmons, 1978; Wilken, 1979), growth-orientation (Dunkelberg & Cooper, 1982), disposition of control (Envick, 2000), self-esteem, (Robinson, Stimpson, Huefner & Hunt, 1991), and masculine attributes (Fagensen & Marcus, 1991). Unfortunately, no consistent pattern of traits has been found that clearly distinguishes entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs (Gartner, 1988).

The behaviors of entrepreneurs have also been studied through observation, interviews, and questionnaires. Birch focused on the creation of jobs as a central behavior of an entrepreneur (1979). …

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