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Personality Traits of Entrepreneurs: A Review of Recent Literature

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  • Sari Pekkala Kerr
  • William R. Kerr
  • Tina Xu

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & Tina Xu, 2017. "Personality Traits of Entrepreneurs: A Review of Recent Literature," NBER Working Papers 24097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24097
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    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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