Personality characteristics of the self-employed: a comparison using the World Values Survey data set

Lee-Ross, Darren (2015) Personality characteristics of the self-employed: a comparison using the World Values Survey data set. Journal of Management Development, 34 (9). pp. 1094-1112.

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– The purpose of this paper is to permit further understanding of entrepreneurial personality characteristics of need for achievement, locus of control, innovation, risk-taking and competitive aggression by comparing the self-employed with waged and salaried workers and the general population.


– A logistic regression equation was used on the "World Values Survey (WVS)" data set to test the relationship between entrepreneurship and personality characteristics by estimating the probability of an event occurring directly.


– This research replicated and extended the earlier work of Beugelsdijk and Noorderhaven (2005). Using two reference groups for comparison, entrepreneurs are different in terms of their psychological characteristics. Specifically, these are need for achievement and locus of control; these were the strongest characteristics. Competitive aggression and risk-taking were moderate in this respect with innovation finding least support.

Research limitations/implications

– In terms of limitations, the present study does not account for environmental enablers or mitigation of starting and sustaining businesses. Also how do the national media, society and culture regard entrepreneurship? Moreover, is there only one model of entrepreneurship or several? For example, amongst indigenous societies, entrepreneurship is more of a collective rather than an individual pursuit where culture and heritage preservation are more important than purely profit generation. Similarly, no account is taken of the differences (nuanced or otherwise) between entrepreneurial personality characteristics in factor vs opportunity/innovation-driven economies.

Practical implications

– The self-employed in this study were different to both comparison groups which is important information for government policy formation at all levels in terms of targeted business/career education, infrastructure, funding, opportunity creation and incubator programmes. Furthermore, rudimentary community and university diagnostics could be formulated around these entrepreneurial characteristics to identify potential entrepreneurs for a "career" of self-employment or placement within large firms as "intrapreneurs" to improve productivity and economic growth.


– This study is the first to use the WVS for scrutiny of entrepreneurial personality traits. It expands and augments earlier work in the field which used the smaller "European Values Survey" by including many more questions pertaining to entrepreneurial personality characteristics adding additional robustness to the outcomes.

Item ID: 40603
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-7492
Keywords: entrepreneurship, small business, personality characteristics
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2015 03:52
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150304 Entrepreneurship @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910402 Management @ 100%
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