Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Motivation for Entrepreneurship

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This exploratory study attempts to examine cross-cultural differences in the motivation for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs from two culturally diverse environments (individualist/collectivist) were administered questionnaires designed to determine the differences in cultural frames of reference and the motivation for entrepreneurship. Statistically significant differences were found between the two groups of entrepreneurs on motivations such as the desire for independence, need for economic security, social standing, and opportunity to contribute. The desire for recognition, innovativeness, and challenge as motivational factors yielded no significant differences. The results suggest that while certain motivational factors may be common to entrepreneurs from different cultural backgrounds, there are differences in the motivation for entrepreneurship that may be attributed to the cultural frame of reference of the entrepreneurs.

CROSS-CULTURAL COMPARISON OF THE MOTIVATION FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The past decade has witnessed a significant increase in interest in the role of entrepreneurship in the economic development of countries. Several studies have identified entrepreneurship as a critical factor in the economic growth and development of nations (Birley, 1987; Reynolds, 1987; Morris & Lewis, 1991; Shane, Kolvereid, & Westhead, 1991). This increased interest in entrepreneurship has resulted in the formulation of a wide range of models explaining why businesses are formed (Cooper, 1970; Shapero, 1988; Greenberg & Sexton, 1988; Scheinberg & MacMillan, 1988; Shane, Kolvereid, & Westhead, 1991).

One of the earliest models proposed a congruence between ideological constructs and economic behavior. Weber (1930) observed that the rise of Protestantism encouraged hard work, thrift, and striving for material advancement, which in turn gave rise to capitalism. Gibb and Richie (1982) argued that business start-ups can be understood in terms of the situations people encounter and the social groups to which the new firms' founders relate. Other models of entrepreneurship include the trait model in which venture initiators are born, not made (McClelland, 1961; Brockhaus, 1980); the psycho dynamic model (Kets de Vries, 1977) associated with social marginality; and the individual personality model (Schere, 1982; Sexton & Bowman, 1985), which postulates certain psychological characteristics such as high propensity for risk taking and the tolerance of ambiguity as attributes that distinguish the entrepreneurial personality.

A common trait among all these models is the attempt to document the entrepreneurial phenomenon and find the reasons leading to business formation or start-up. Review of the literature further suggests a tendency among researchers to develop universal theories of business formation. However, the validity of this approach has been questioned. Not all entrepreneurs come from similar backgrounds (Shapero & Sokol, 1982; Low 8c MacMillan, 1988). Instead of a focus on universal model of entrepreneurial behavior, it has been suggested that efforts should be directed at examining the differences in the characteristics of the people who initiate business ventures, the organization they create, the environment surrounding the new venture, and the process by which the new venture is started (Gibb & Ritchie, 1982; Gartner, 1985).

Culture and Entrepreneurship

The relationship between culture and entrepreneurship has received quite a bit of research attention. Hagen (1960) explained entrepreneurial behavior as a means by which disadvantaged minorities seek to alter the status quo. Brenner (1987) argued that it is groups that have lost or face the prospect of losing social status that are driven to take entrepreneurial risks. Ray and Turpin (1987) found that friendship obligations and social status were important reasons for business start-up in Japan. …