Over the years researchers have attempted to answer the fundamental question, who is the entrepreneur?' Research has ranged from attempting to create aggregate typologies of entrepreneurs, to studies of individual personality characteristics. This paper will explore and examine whether and to what extent it is possible to explain an entrepreneurs motives by recourse solely to scientific studies of entrepreneurial personality. Firstly the paper will examine the different viewpoints there are in terms of the entrepreneurial personality. The entrepreneurial personality approach (trait approach) will then be examined, as well as discussing the characteristics that research studies has identified as being identifiable within entrepreneurs. This will be followed by critical examination of the entrepreneurial personality approach and linking the research of the personality approach with findings from past research on leadership; as well as determining to what extent it is possible to explain entrepreneur's motives solely by the entrepreneurial personality approach. The alternative approaches to the personality approach will then be looked at to determine whether an alternative approach is more sufficient in explaining an entrepreneur's motives or whether a combination of these approaches would be more conclusive in determining an entrepreneur's motives. Conclusions will then follow which will sum up and analyse the paper and also the findings, as well as determine whether an entrepreneur's motives can be sufficiently explained by the personality approach.
When you go into business for yourself you trade off the familiar and the safe for the unknown and the risky. You take on long-term financial obligations with money that belongs to relatives, friends, strangers and institutions. You work 14-hour days, seven days a week, for the foreseeable future. And, after all that, the odds are you'll fail. So what motivates these people to undertake entrepreneurial behaviour?
There is a substantial amount of disagreement concerning the concept of the entrepreneurial personality (Lambing & Kuehl, 2000). Some believe that individuals can be taught to be entrepreneurs, while others consider this to be impossible. Peter Drucker (1985) is of the belief that people can be taught to be entrepreneurs; he states, "For every risk taker, I'll show you someone who's risk adverse. For every first-born child who is a successful entrepreneur, there's a successful last-born or only child. For every entrepreneur who had entrepreneurial parents there are those whose parents were military or corporate or absent" (Drucker, 1985; cited in Lambing & Kuehl, 2000, pg.15). There are, however, many who believe that entrepreneurs have a special personality and that these traits cannot be taught. A writer from the Business Week' states, "while Peter Drucker is probably right that the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship can be studied and learned, the soul of an entrepreneur is something else altogether" (Oneal, 1993; cited in Lambing & Kuehl, 2000, pg.16). Jon P. Goodman (1994) also backs this statement up by stating that "good ideas are common, the people who can implement them are rare" (Goodman, 1994; cited in Lambing & Kuehl 2000, pg.16)
So then, we must ask, is it possible and to what extent can studies of entrepreneurial personality explain an entrepreneur's motives?
Entrepreneurial Personality Approach
For many years, scholars have debated the origins of entrepreneurial behaviour. Many studies have attempted to identify an entrepreneurial personality, a specific set of traits that distinguish entrepreneurs from the general population (Lambing & Kuehl, 2000).
The trait approach assumes that the entrepreneur is a "particular personality type, a fixed state of existence, a describable species that one might find a picture of in a field guide, and the point of much entrepreneurship has been to enumerate...