Are Entrepreneurs Born or Not?

Topics: Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship education Pages: 7 (2048 words) Published: September 29, 2005
Research in the field of entrepreneurship has over the years increased, yet questions and consensus over issues in the field of entrepreneurship have yet to be answered or agreed upon. (Lazenby et al., pg. 2) Issues include the definition of entrepreneurship and whether or not entrepreneurs are born or trained. In this essay the arguments involved in defining entrepreneurs will not be analysed, but specific attention will be given to the argument on whether or not entrepreneurs are born or trained.

According to Reynolds et al. (2000) "entrepreneurs are people who have both the will (in other words, desire or motivation) and the skill (the ability) to project their ideas or schemes into the future, and, by backing their judgement with innovative action and persistence, turn those ideas into reality." (Reynolds et al., 2000, pg. 105) At times entrepreneurs can be defined as anyone that becomes an ‘opportunity seeker.' (Anonymous, 1998, pg. 45) The difficulty found in analysing entrepreneurs is that no two entrepreneurs are the same, so it makes it harder to pin down exactly who is an entrepreneur. "Some are extroverts and some are introverts, some have family history of entrepreneurs whilst others do not, some start from poverty when others begin with wealth, some are young and some are old." (Lazeny et al., pg. 3)

An area that has captured the attention and imagination of scholars and academics in entrepreneurship is the classic question "are entrepreneurs made or born?" (Lazenby et al., pg. 3) Regarding this issue many different opinions and results have been given by various scholars and academics. Frakes et al. authors of Instinct, believe that people are born entrepreneurs and that individuals DNA, genetics and personality play a major role in whether they become a successful entrepreneur or not. To become successful one needs to realise their 5 big personality traits and see if they are able to become an entrepreneur. Research in Personality theory has led to a five factor model of personality that includes: 1. extraversion, 2. emotional stability, 3. agreeableness, 4. conscientiousness and 5. openness to experience. (Buchholtz et al., 2004, pg. 466) Faris (1999) also holds the belief that entrepreneurs are born, not made.

According to Cohen (1980), Jacobwitz holds the same opinion that entrepreneurs are born, not made. Jacobwitz identified common personality traits of entrepreneurs and "developed a chronological schema of entrepreneurial indicators that he calls the five ages of the entrepreneur. Jacobwitz trait theory suggests that entrepreneurial aptitude is static, meaning either one is born with it or not. (Lazenby et al., pg. 4)

As it can be seen many scholars believe that entrepreneurs have some ‘innate genetic talents'. Professor Neal Thornberry however believes that entrepreneurs are not just born but in fact are trained to become successful by learning and creating the specific characteristics that are inherent in entrepreneurs. (Thornberry, pg. 2) Thornberry gives examples of Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher and Fred Smith founder of Federal Express; both entrepreneurs only succeeded after many years of diligent preparation and long term commitment. (Thornberry, pg. 3)

An interview conducted with Herb Kelleher, asked Herb whether or not he thinks successful entrepreneurs are born or made. Herb replied that in his experience entrepreneurs require six natural born characteristics to become successful. These 6 personal attributes cannot be trained into people and include: "1. a reasonable intelligence, 2. good health, 3. optimistic disposition, 4. lengthy attention, 5. perseverance, and 6. a love of people." (Anonymous, 2003, pg. 1) These six attributes can be further condensed into three basic points of intelligence, health and attitude. According to Herb attitude is the most important of all the personal characteristics, and the one that cannot be trained.

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