Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Entrepreneurial Dispositions and Goal Orientations: A Comparative Exploration of United States and Russian Entrepreneurs *

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Entrepreneurial Dispositions and Goal Orientations: A Comparative Exploration of United States and Russian Entrepreneurs *

Article excerpt

We refine and extend the study of entrepreneurial dispositions by linking three classic hallmarks of the entrepreneur--achievement motivation, risk-taking propensity, and preference for innovation--to the goal orientations of United States and Russian entrepreneurs. The results suggest that entrepreneurial dispositions vary according to culture and the entrepreneur's primary goal for the venture. The results have important implications for theoretical development linking dispositions and entrepreneurial behavior in different settings and for entrepreneurial education and government policy.

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Issues associated with the individual unit of analysis have been an important component of attempts to elucidate the antecedents, processes, and outcomes associated with entrepreneurship. Because the entrepreneur is the catalyst of entrepreneurship, substantial research has been devoted to entrepreneurial motivation, choice, and persistence, particularly the psychological factors that predispose an individual toward entrepreneurial action instead of a managerial career. The results of these studies, however, appear inconclusive (Brockhaus and Horwitz 1986), resulting in questions concerning the predictive value of entrepreneurial dispositions (Chell 1985; Gartner 1988). Rather than indicating the futility of dispositions, however, the conflicting results in entrepreneurial dispositions may be a function of conceptual, operational, sample, and measurement issues (Johnson 1990; Stewart and Roth 2001). In fact, recent meta-analyses have demonstrated the important influence of dispositions on behavior both in la rge organizations (Barrick and Mount 1991; Tett, Jackson, and Rothstein 1991) and in entrepreneurial settings (Stewart and Roth 2001) when the effects of research artifacts are addressed (Hunter and Schmidt 1990). Accordingly, dispositions should be incorporated into theories of organizational behavior (House, Shane, and Herold 1996), including entrepreneurial behavior.

Methodological refinement and conceptual precision are integral to clarifying the role of dispositions in entrepreneurial behavior. From a conceptual standpoint, the literature often reflects an assumption that entrepreneurs are a homogeneous group, despite considerable apparent variation in the entrepreneurial population. Disregarding this heterogeneity may impede theory development (Gartner 1985; Stewart et al. 1999). The level of entrepreneurial intensity in pursuit of opportunity, reflected by the type of opportunity and how it is pursued, is a primary example of a potentially important distinction among types of individuals who generally might be labeled entrepreneurs because they were firm founders (Shane and Venkataraman 2000). Moreover, key elements of opportunity pursuit are choosing a growth goal and maximizing venture outcomes or opting to produce current income and seeking stability. Not only is the entrepreneur's goal for the venture important in isolating research samples, but such a distinctio n and the attendant situational demands imposed by goals also represent a potentially important trait-situation connection, a recommended approach for clarifying how dispositions translate into behaviors (Epstein and O'Brien 1985).

Our research focuses on whether entrepreneurial dispositions differ according to the entrepreneur's goal orientation. Specifically, we examine the relationships among three of the most prominent entrepreneurial dispositions--achievement motivation, risk-taking propensity, and innovativeness--and the entrepreneur's goals for the venture, an indicator of intended entrepreneurial intensity. The research makes a contribution to the literature in two primary ways. First, it clarifies entrepreneurial dispositions by examining differences according to the entrepreneur's primary goal for the business, growth, or current income. We believe that this approach, using a typology based upon entrepreneurial intentions for the venture, is useful for dealing with the heterogeneity in the entrepreneurial population and links dispositions to venture circumstances, thus providing more theoretical precision. …

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