A Genetic Basis of Serial Entrepreneurship

Posted: 25 May 2010 Last revised: 8 Jan 2014

See all articles by David G. Rand

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: May 25, 2010


For a full paper see: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2141598

Entrepreneurs are crucial to the creation and development of every industry. Amongst entrepreneurs, often the most successful and most innovative are the so-called “serial entrepreneurs,” individuals who have started multiple businesses across their careers. Research from the social sciences has variously attributed the success of these individuals to risk-taking, aggression, and sociability. Here, we instead use genetic analysis to study individual differences in serial entrepreneurship. In a sample of successful executives recruited from a Harvard Business School executive education program, we examine the frequencies of three genotypes previously associated with risk-taking, aggression and social gregariousness, respectively: the 7-repeat genotype of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4), the low-activity Monoamine Oxidase A (MAOA) genotype, and the long-repeat genotype of the RS3 microsatellite in the arginine vasopressin 1a receptor promoter region (AVPR1a). We find that serial entrepreneurs are more than twice as likely to have the long AVPR1a RS3 repeat genotype compared to non-serial entrepreneurs, while finding no significant association between serial entrepreneurship and either DRD4 or MAOA genotypes. The genetic associations (and lack thereof) demonstrated here suggest that serial entrepreneurs are distinguished more by their sociability than their aggression or risk-taking. These results are the first to demonstrate a genetic basis of serial entrepreneurship, representing a new approach for understanding this class of entrepreneurs and the driving force behind their innovations.

Suggested Citation

Rand, David G., A Genetic Basis of Serial Entrepreneurship (May 25, 2010). Gruter Institute Squaw Valley Conference – Innovation and Economic Growth, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1615669

David G. Rand (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

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