Personality Traits of Entrepreneurs: A Review of Recent Literature

51 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2017

See all articles by Sari Pekkala Kerr

Sari Pekkala Kerr

Wellesley College

William Kerr

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Tina Xu

Wellesley College

Date Written: December 2017

Abstract

We review the extensive literature since 2000 on the personality traits of entrepreneurs. We first consider baseline personality traits like the Big-5 model, self-efficacy and innovativeness, locus of control, and the need for achievement. We then consider risk attitudes and goals and aspirations of entrepreneurs. Within each area, we separate studies by the type of entrepreneurial behavior considered: entry into entrepreneurship, performance outcomes, and exit from entrepreneurship. This literature shows common results and many points of disagreement, reflective of the heterogeneous nature of entrepreneurship. We label studies by the type of entrepreneurial population studied (e.g., Main Street vs. those backed by venture capital) to identify interesting and irreducible parts of this heterogeneity, while also identifying places where we anticipate future large-scale research and the growing depth of the field are likely to clarify matters. There are many areas, like how firm performance connects to entrepreneurial personality, that are woefully understudied and ripe for major advances if the appropriate cross-disciplinary ingredients are assembled.

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Suggested Citation

Kerr, Sari Pekkala and Kerr, William R. and Xu, Tina, Personality Traits of Entrepreneurs: A Review of Recent Literature (December 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w24097. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3087039

William R. Kerr

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Tina Xu

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central St.
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States

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