Entrepreneurial Spirit Among East Asian Chinese

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Entrepreneurial Spirit among East Asian Chinese
Swee Hoon Ang

Don G. P Hong .

Executive Summary This research showed that entrepreneurial spirit among East Asian Chinese youths is predicted by personality characteristics such as risk-taking propensity, persistence, and internal locus of control, as well as by motivational factors such as love for money and desire for security. Generally, these characteristics are not prevalent in an East Asian culture. The underlying predictors, however, differed for Hong Kong and Singapore. Risk taking was a common predictor for both groups, while persistence was a predictor for Hong Kong, and internal locus of control and love for money were significant for Singapore. Entrepreneurial spirit was associated with beliefs in ethics and self-indulgence for oneself, but not philanthropy. © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



o boost business and economic climates, entrepreneurs sometimes are used as catalysts to provide the necessary stimulus. Entrepreneurs take risks by engaging in new ventures, which in turn create employment and contribute to economic growth (Kilby, 1971; Stewart, 1996). In the US, it is estimated that some 70% of all new products and 80% of all new jobs each year result from the small business/entrepreneurial sector (Hisrich & Grachev, 1993). Research on entrepreneurship demonstrates that individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit—the desire to capitalize on opportunities by undertaking wealth-creating and value-adding activities—possess several personality characteristics. Hornaday (1982), for instance, documented that entrepreneurs have some 42 characteristics that distinguish them from non-entrepreneurs. These

Swee Hoon Ang and Don Hong are Associate Professor and Student, respectively, at the Faculty of Business Administration, National University of Singapore. Dr. Ang has published in Journal of Advertising, Journal of Business Ethics, Psychology & Marketing, and Industrial Marketing Management. She is also the co-author with Philip Kotler on Marketing Management: An Asian Perspective. Thunderbird International Business Review, Vol. 42(3) 285–309 • May–June 2000 © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Swee Hoon Ang


Don G. P Hong .

include perseverance, resourcefulness, ability to take calculated risks, dynamism, and achievement orientation. However, as observed by Hatten (1997), the vast research on personality characteristics of entrepreneurs has met with modest success. Researchers, therefore, have redirected their attention on the “why” aspect of entrepreneurship. This includes questions such as, “Why do some people recognize opportunities while others do not?” and “Why do some try to develop such opportunities while others do not?” One approach to …the entrepre- address these questions is to study the motivation underlying their neurial spirit can behaviors. These motivations may be for profit (desire to make more be described money), social (desire to gain security), or personal (desire to gain not only in terms prestige and status). Thus, the entrepreneurial spirit can be described not only in terms of personality characteristics, but also in terms of of personality motivational factors. However, past research has not explored these characteristics, two sets of factors in tandem on their relative influence on but also in terms entrepreneurial spirit. of motivational factors.

Theoretically, studying the influence of personality characteristics and motivation on fostering an entrepreneurial spirit provides insights into the relative contributions of these factors. A model encompassing these two sets of factors can be developed to measure the entrepreneurial spirit of an individual. This is managerially relevant in screening and identifying employees who are more suited to work in an entrepreneurial environment. Understanding what makes an individual more entrepreneurial than another is also important, as it helps to...
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