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Key Personality Attributes Of An Entrepreneur Business Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 1723 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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According to Carland et al. (1984:356), an entrepreneur is defined as ‘an individual that establishes and manages a business for the principal purpose of profit and growth’. ‘Characterisation of the entrepreneur is by innovative behaviour and strategic management practices will be used in the business’ (Carland et al., 1984:356). Entrepreneurs have several personal characteristics that enhance their ability and enable them to be successful in whatever venture they decide to focus on.

In this essay, entrepreneurship theory such as Mclelland, internal locus of control and Schumpeter will be used to form an analytical framework in order to critically analyse and evaluate the key personality attributes that prompted Victoria Tomlinson’s entrepreneurial pursuits.

Analytical framework:







The analytical framework above reveals the personality attributes that make an individual become an entrepreneur and the attributes are illustrated from conception to the end process. It is made up of a combination of entrepreneurial theories that allude to the psychological traits of an individual. A variety of entrepreneurial theories will be used to explain the framework. Conception of the personality attribute of an entrepreneur is the will to establish a kingdom, followed by the need for achievement, then internal locus of control closely followed by non-conformist and finally the culmination of all the personality attributes lead to an entrepreneur.

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According to Goss (2005), Joseph Schumpeter suggested that one of the psychological traits of an entrepreneur is the ‘will to establish a private kingdom’. This is not only a personality attribute but it is a form of entrepreneurial motivation that can be found in entrepreneurs and individuals who might become entrepreneurs. In the framework above, it is highlighted as the first stage of one of many personality traits attributed to entrepreneurs.

Goss (2005) argued that Schumpeter’s entrepreneurial motivation with regards to the will to establish a private kingdom’ is focused on an individual gaining and losing social status i.e. the motive is one gains power which protects one from the feelings of shame. Goss (2005) views Schumpeter’s three entrepreneurial motives from a sociological prism and not a psychological one. After much examination of Schumpeter’s writings, Goss (2005) arrived at the conclusion that social interaction and emotions are key variables in entrepreneurial actions.

Also, Barnes (2000) views the motives from a sociological prism and argues otherwise that the drive to establish a private kingdom is based on an individual’s independent ability to pursue a course of action. What remains to be seen is if this course of action is related to entrepreneurial actions.

Need for Achievement was identified by David Mclelland (Kalantaridis, 2011). According to McClelland (1990), entrepreneurs have a high need for achievement and this was confirmed by Hansemark (1998) who carried out a research and found high levels of need for achievement in entrepreneurs. Hansemark (1998) argued that the need for achievement for an entrepreneur is based on an achievement motive to perform better than their previous performance or a need to be better than other that were before them. This motive can be learnt and it can be seen as an expectation.

McClelland revealed one of the characteristics common in achievement motivated people are the desire for job relevant feedback i.e. how well one is doing? This is exhibited in Victoria who as the boss of her firm encouraged feedback from her employees on her performance in order to improve the person and set her sights on high but obtainable goals and vice versa for her employees.

Rotter came up with Internal Locus of Control whereby individuals believe whatever happens to them is dependent on their actions (Kalantaridis, 2011). A high internal locus of control is found in entrepreneurs. This is a social learning theory of personality. Hanesmark (1998) suggests that locus of control is focused on ‘the expectation of either success or failure in a judgement task’. Hanesmark (1998) identified several authors that have found new entrepreneurs and existing entrepreneurs to have a high locus of control. Zhang and Bruning (2011) argued that individuals with a high level of internal locus control believe they can make things happen for their business and take responsibility for their successes and failures’ knowing the outcome is based on their actions.

Kets De Vries (1977) argues that the entrepreneur is anxious, non-conformist and has a self destructive behaviour. The non-conformist according to Kets De Vries (1977) is seen as a way of exercising power and control in a vicinity recognised as dangerous and uncontrollable.

One of the key personalities attributes that make up the analytical framework is need for achievement developed by McClelland. McClelland argued that entrepreneurs possess and exhibit a high need for achievement. The achievement motive deals with the psychology of entrepreneurship. Victoria has invested the time and effort in her skills, abilities and personal attributes in order to set up her Public Relations (PR) business. This was done by her being in charge and delivering a PR campaign for the National Association for Colitis and Crohns Disease (NACC). Need for achievement is satisfied by an intrinsic sense of success rather than an extrinsic one.

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Sagie and Elizur (1999) suggests that in entrepreneurs, the need for achievement is manifested in behaviours such as carrying out different tasks the outcome of which is uncertain, the entrepreneurs willingness to take responsibility for the consequences of their action and inconsistent behaviour is highly unlikely to be exhibited by entrepreneurs. According to Sagie and Elzur (1999), the need for achievement and entrepreneurial orientation revealed entrepreneurs were prompt in their ability to find solutions to problems, undertake personal responsibility for the outcome of their work rather than a shared responsibility. This was the initial case with Victoria, in that she chose to take responsibility for all tasks yet as time went by, she has increasingly delegated and responsibility is shared. Also, Victoria noted her love of problem solving and this characteristic has been on display in her business with regards to providing solutions for clients and meeting their needs.

The need for achievement is a personality characteristic yet Zhang and Bruning (2011) suggest it can be obtained through education in the case of an MBA programme. Johnson (1990) reveals that a positive relationship between the need for achievement and entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur’s firm will be both proactive and competitive in nature, therefore entrepreneur’s need for achievement will affect firm’s strategy directly and the firm’s performance indirectly. Victoria exhibited an intense need for achievement due to the people in her family. Both parents are highly successful in their chosen career fields and her younger brother is equally successful and smart. Yet there was a yearning in her to match her family’s success. The longing for individual success is translated into a high need for achievement in her academic studies while she was at school, in the corporate world working for top firms and now in her business as an entrepreneur.

Zhang and Bruning (2011) suggests that personal characteristics of an entrepreneur like need for achievement and internal locus of control influence the organisation owned and controlled by the entrepreneur in a positive manner. Yet Zhang and Bruning (2011) argue that when entrepreneurs have a high need for achievement, they tend to focus more on meeting the needs of their customers through creativity and innovation.

Entrepreneurs with a high internal locus of control believe they can make things happen in their firm and success is dependent on their actions. Zhang and Bruning (2011) argue that firms have a market-oriented organisational culture whose entrepreneur has a high internal locus of control, will be more in tuned with their own innovation and creative ideas, more internally driven and less willing to seek directions for the firm with regards to the future from customers, competitors or other entities. Zhang and Bruning (2011) suggest that there is a positive correlation between internal locus of control and entrepreneurship behaviour. Using the entrepreneurship theory of Internal Locus of control, Victoria believes that whatever happens to her in life is dependent on her behaviour and controllable by her actions. She believes she is in charge of her destiny. She commented that ‘if you are good and honest with your clients, then good business will follow’. Korunka et al. (2003) argument is personality characteristics seen in entrepreneurs are high need for achievement, a high internal locus of control and a medium propensity for risk due to increased security motive and favourable personal resources.

Kets De Vries (1977) argues that entrepreneurs are ‘anxious individuals, who are non-conformist, poorly organised and not a stranger to self-destructive behaviour’. The attribute of non-conformist can be applied to Victoria yet the characteristics of poor organisation or self-destructive behaviour cannot be applied to Victoria as she does not portray these personalities. Although Victoria reveals she has an inner direction with self-reliance, she does not neglect interpersonal relations with her family, work colleagues and clients.

Overall, the dream to establish a private kingdom, a high need for achievement, internal locus of control and non-conformist behaviour all contribute towards the personality attributes of an entrepreneur. In conclusion, entrepreneurs need to possess a high need for achievement and a high internal locus of control.


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