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The genetic basis of entrepreneurship: Effects of gender and personality


  • Zhang, Zhen
  • Zyphur, Michael J.
  • Narayanan, Jayanth
  • Arvey, Richard D.
  • Chaturvedi, Sankalp
  • Avolio, Bruce J.
  • Lichtenstein, Paul
  • Larsson, Gerry


Extending previous research on the genetic underpinnings of entrepreneurship, we investigate gender differences in the genetic influences on the tendency of people to become entrepreneurs. We also examined two mediating variables through which genetic factors may impact this tendency: extraversion and neuroticism. Based on 1285 pairs of identical twins (449 male and 836 female pairs) and 849 pairs of same-sex fraternal twins (283 male and 566 female pairs), we found that females have a strong genetic influence and zero shared-environmental influences on their tendency to become entrepreneurs. In contrast, males show zero genetic influence, but a large shared-environmental influence. Extraversion and neuroticism mediate the genetic influences on women's tendency to become entrepreneurs, whereas extraversion mediates shared-environmental influences on men's tendency to become entrepreneurs. We discuss this sharp difference in genetic influences on entrepreneurship across gender groups and highlight the different challenges that men and women face in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

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  • Zhang, Zhen & Zyphur, Michael J. & Narayanan, Jayanth & Arvey, Richard D. & Chaturvedi, Sankalp & Avolio, Bruce J. & Lichtenstein, Paul & Larsson, Gerry, 2009. "The genetic basis of entrepreneurship: Effects of gender and personality," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 93-107, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:110:y:2009:i:2:p:93-107

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Greene, Francis J. & Han, Liang & Martin, Sean & Zhang, Song & Wittert, Gary, 2014. "Testosterone is associated with self-employment among Australian men," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 76-84.
    2. Shane, Scott & Nicolaou, Nicos, 2015. "Creative personality, opportunity recognition and the tendency to start businesses: A study of their genetic predispositions," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 407-419.
    3. Barnea, Amir & Cronqvist, Henrik & Siegel, Stephan, 2010. "Nature or nurture: What determines investor behavior?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 583-604, December.
    4. Staniewski, Marcin W., 2016. "The contribution of business experience and knowledge to successful entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 5147-5152.
    5. Philipp Koellinger & Matthijs Loos & Patrick Groenen & A. Thurik & Fernando Rivadeneira & Frank Rooij & André Uitterlinden & Albert Hofman, 2010. "Genome-wide association studies in economics and entrepreneurship research: promises and limitations," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 1-18, July.
    6. Nicolaou, Nicos & Shane, Scott, 2010. "Entrepreneurship and occupational choice: Genetic and environmental influences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 3-14, October.
    7. Karen Maguire & John V. Winters, 2017. "Satisfaction and Self-Employment: Do Women Benefit More from Being Their Own Boss?," Economics Working Paper Series 1713, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.


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