Entrepreneurism - nature or nurture?

Oct 23 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Are entrepreneurs born or made? According to new research, six out of 10 entrepreneurs in the U.S. claim that their entrepreneurial drive is a result of nature, not nurture.

Researchers at Northeastern University's School of Technological Entrepreneurship (STE) in Boston set out to answer the long-debated question of whether entrepreneurs are born, or bred through work experiences, education or other factors.

Quizzing 200 U.S. based entrepreneurs how their own experiences and attributes have contributed to their success, the research found that 62 per cent felt their "innate drive" was the number one motivator in starting their own venture.

Another startling finding was that a mere one per cent thought that higher education had been a primary motivator in their starting a business.

In contrast, one in five felt that their work experience was a factor in setting up their own venture while some one in six (16 per cent) had been inspired by peers within the industry.

"The survey results indicate a major issue in academia today: institutions of higher education are not adequately preparing students for careers in entrepreneurship," said Paul Zavracky, Dean of Northeastern's STE.

"The traditional 'silo-approach' to teaching entrepreneurship is flawed. An independent, interdisciplinary approach that marries business and marketing with technology ensures students are well-rounded and fully prepared to start their own ventures."

The survey also set out to identify some common factors in the profile of today's entrepreneurs and found that more than four out of 10 had embarked on their first ventures during childhood, typically through doing a paper round.

Six out of 10 also said that they had no history of entrepreneurism in their family, although more than third said that family members were their greatest inspirations.

The majority, meanwhile, displayed a strong streak of self-confidence in their ventures, with a third claiming they had never been fearful that they might fail and more than four out of 10 saying that they were confident despite some doubts.

With only one in 10 (12 per cent) saying that fear of failure had delayed their ventures, it isn't surprising that almost nine out of 10 of those surveyed consider themselves to be risk-takers Ė although four of ten of these still claim to be somewhat cautious when faced with major decisions.

The survey was carried out to mark the launch of the School of Technological Entrepreneurship, a new initiative that teaches students how to create business plans, market science- and engineering-based products and obtain the financing to start technology-based businesses.