The Entrepreneurial Personalities: A study of personality traits and leadership preferences of entrepreneurs

Research output: PhD thesis

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The objective of the research is to investigate what constitutes the entrepreneurial personality in terms of innate and learned personality characteristics and how these relate to environmental impact and leadership. The thesis argues that an entrepreneurial personality is a combination of traits that are embedded in nature and nurture.
Founded on a cross-disciplinary literature review with relevant sources from psychology, economics, leadership and entrepreneurship, the thesis develops an a priori framework for the study that is founded on extant research. Based on the theoretically-driven conceptualization, data were collected from 55 active entrepreneurs’ primarily located in Nupark, Holstebro, in Denmark. The selected population of entrepreneurs completed a 2-hour standardised and validated personality test measuring 36 personality traits, a leadership preference test with 27 leadership roles, and a questionnaire discovering the respondents’ background. These double-tested data provided significant and robust results that were further analysed in relation to the characteristics of the respondents such as role models, expertise due to deliberate practice for at least 10,000 hours, and life-changing events.
During the process of mapping the entrepreneurial personality, the concepts were initially unclear. Moreover, a literature review of entrepreneurship and leadership uncovered a lack of interest at the individual level in high-ranked journals. One of the reasons is explained by insufficient measurement methods due to use of diverse definitions. Hence, the thesis develops the concepts of entrepreneur, personality and entrepreneurial leader. Concurrently, empirically and theoretically based models are constructed that are the foundation for future measurement of entrepreneurs’ personality.
Additionally, the thesis suggests that the concept of an entrepreneur should be divided into three different categories: Self-employed, Business owner and Entrepreneur. Within the entrepreneur category, four typologies are displayed: Synnovation Entrepreneur and Team Entrepreneur, Adventurer and Rebel, each of which is described according to the empirical findings. Furthermore, the research finds that the set of personality traits necessary for an entrepreneur consists of Autonomy, Exploration Drive, Preparedness for Change, and Self-preservation Instinct.
In conclusion, to answer the research question regarding the constitution of the entrepreneurial personality, it appears that the entrepreneurial traits are the origin of an entrepreneur and the environment shapes how and when the entrepreneurial activity emerges. Moreover, leadership defines the nature and extent of the entrepreneurial activity and whether it takes place at all.
Translated title of the contributionIværksætterpersonligheder: Et studie af iværksætternes personlighedstræk og ledelsespræferencer
Original languageEnglish
Electronic ISBNs978-87-7112-453-8
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

PhD supervisor:
Professor Svetla T. Marinova, Aalborg University


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  • Typer af iværksættere og indsatsbehov

    Østergaard, A., 2018, Iværksætteri i Aalborg: Pejlemærker for iværksætterstrategien i 2017-2018. p. 7-8 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingReport chapterCommunication

    Open Access

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