Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur or Manager? a Discriminant Analysis Based on Mintzberg's Managerial Roles

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur or Manager? a Discriminant Analysis Based on Mintzberg's Managerial Roles

Article excerpt


Can the nature of entrepreneurial work be differentiated from the nature of managerial work? This study used Mintzberg's managerial role theory in order to test situation descriptions that discriminate between entrepreneurs and managers. The authors believe that a number of roles can be identified which characterize both the nature of entrepreneurial work and the nature of managerial work. A factor analysis was performed to determine whether Mintzberg's three groupings of interpersonal, informational, and decisional roles still held up after thirty years. Results suggest that as managers manage components of these variables load together confirming Mintzberg's proposed division for interpersonal and decisional roles. The discriminant analysis shows, in order of significance, that the roles of disturbance handler, nerve center, and liaison are more characteristic of managerial work while the roles of resource allocator, negotiator, disseminator and spokesperson were more characteristic of entrepreneurial work. The questionnaire was mailed to two college of business advisory boards and one regional development board. Eighty-seven usable questionnaires were returned yielding a response rate of 16%.


Hemphill (1959) describes the roles management undertakes as the monitoring, supervising and motivating of employees. As roles were studied, it was found that managers must make corrections (Sayles, 1964), act as a figurehead (Mintzberg, 1973), control, budget and allocate resources (Kotter, 1982) and lead, evaluate and build the corporate culture (Bettinger, 1989). These activities are quite different from the behavioral work activities identified in the business literature characterizing the nature of entrepreneurial work. According to the literature, entrepreneurship involves risk taking (Brockhaus, 1980), having a vision (Timmons, 1978), demonstrating a propensity to innovate (Schumpeter, 1934), being able to spot trends (Dunkelberg & Cooper, 1982), while simultaneously being capable of engaging in creative problem solving (Solomon, 1988). Dunphy (1993) has also identified the behavioral work activity of selling as a key component of entrepreneurship.

Mintzberg (1973) focused on the key roles that the manager plays. These roles include three categories: (1) Interpersonal roles involve managers dealing with subordinates and peers as (a) figureheads, (b) leaders and/or (c) liaisons; (2) Informational roles involve serving as a clearinghouse of information by being (a) nerve center, (b) disseminator and/or (c) spokesperson; (3) Decisional roles involve working as an (a) entrepreneur, (b) disturbance handler, (c) resource allocator, and/or (d) negotiator. Thus, Mintzberg provides ten activities that managers engage in. If, as pointed out above, entrepreneurs play different roles, then one should be able to distinguish managers from entrepreneurs by examining the extent that each performs these ten activities in their work.

Table 1 reviews work on roles and indicates that the pattern of administrative versus entrepreneurial work activities differs. Administrative activities such as planning, organizing, monitoring and motivating have more structure while entrepreneurial activities such as selling, innovating, creating and judging are more chaotic and less defined. For example, budgeting (an administrative activity) is a process involving trade-off decisions that can be analyzed on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. On the other hand, risk taking, creative problem solving and having a vision (entrepreneurial activities) are items incapable of being relegated to a computer spreadsheet. It appears that different skill sets may be necessary for managers and entrepreneurs to be successful.

The literature on entrepreneurial roles seems to indicate that entrepreneurs engage in a somewhat different pattern of behavior and may cognitively process information differently than managers. …

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