Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Steve Jobs: Who is an Entrepreneurial Role Model?

7 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2013

Date Written: November 2013


Role models and imitation are important in entrepreneurship. In an October 2013 paper, "Getting the Bug: Is (Growth) Entrepreneurship Contagious," we looked at the role of imitation in spurring entrepreneurship. In a related effort, this paper looks at entrepreneurial role models through the lens of which entrepreneurs are most readily identifiable by U.S. residents.

Role models are important in many professional activities. They are a part of learning and progressing in fields like law, medicine, and engineering. Role models legitimate an activity — across genders, ages, races, and socioeconomic groups — and provide practical, tested examples of best practices.

Role models play a significant role in business in general, and in entrepreneurship specifically. They are particularly crucial given the under-representation of women and non-Caucasians among entrepreneurs overall, and among growth entrepreneurs in particular.

It is unclear, however, who typical Americans identify as entrepreneurial role models. Are they contemporaries? Do they identify anyone at all? It would be useful to understand who they recognize and how that varies by geography, gender, race, and income.

This study surveyed 1,000 U.S. residents over age 18 about their knowledge of various entrepreneurs. Specifically, the survey asked respondents which people from a list of five candidates were entrepreneurs.

The survey was conducted August 18-22, 2013, using Google Consumer Survey.

Keywords: role models, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, celebrity

Suggested Citation

Kedrosky, Paul, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Steve Jobs: Who is an Entrepreneurial Role Model? (November 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2353869 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2353869

Paul Kedrosky (Contact Author)

SK Ventures ( email )

San Francisco, CA
United States

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