Topic 17: Trait Approach To Understand Entrepreneurship

Trait approach


The trait approach to understanding entrepreneurship focuses on identifying the personal characteristics and qualities that distinguish successful entrepreneurs. In this topic we will discuss the trait approach, exploring key traits and theories that shed light on the entrepreneurial mindset and behavior.

Key Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

  1. Risk-Taking Propensity: One prominent trait theory, proposed by psychologist David McClelland, suggests that successful entrepreneurs exhibit a high tolerance for risk. They are willing to take calculated risks and venture into the unknown, viewing challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.
  2. Innovativeness: Another essential trait is innovativeness, as highlighted by the trait theory developed by psychologist Gordon Allport. Entrepreneurs with a penchant for innovation possess a creative mindset, constantly seeking out new ideas, solutions, and opportunities to disrupt existing markets and create value.
  3. Passion and Vision: The trait of passion and vision, emphasized in various trait theories, drives entrepreneurial behavior and perseverance. Entrepreneurs with a clear vision and unwavering passion for their ventures are better equipped to overcome obstacles, inspire others, and navigate the complexities of the business landscape.
  4. Resilience and Perseverance: Traits such as resilience and perseverance, outlined in the trait theory of personality by psychologist Albert Bandura, are crucial for entrepreneurial success. Entrepreneurs face numerous setbacks and failures on their journey, but those with resilience bounce back stronger, learn from their experiences, and persist in pursuit of their goals.

Trait Theories Supporting Entrepreneurial Behavior

1. Big Five Personality Traits

The Big Five Personality Traits, also known as the Five-Factor Model, encompass five broad dimensions of personality:

  1. Openness to Experience: Entrepreneurs high in openness to experience are imaginative, curious, and open-minded. They embrace new ideas, seek out novel experiences, and are willing to explore unconventional solutions to problems.
  2. Conscientiousness: Conscientious entrepreneurs are organized, diligent, and achievement-oriented. They demonstrate self-discipline, set ambitious goals, and are committed to achieving excellence in their endeavors.
  3. Extraversion: Extraverted entrepreneurs are sociable, outgoing, and energetic. They thrive in social settings, enjoy networking and building relationships, and are often charismatic leaders who inspire and motivate others.
  4. Agreeableness: Agreeable entrepreneurs are compassionate, cooperative, and empathetic. They value harmony in relationships, prioritize teamwork and collaboration, and excel in roles that require interpersonal skills and conflict resolution.
  5. Neuroticism (Emotional Stability): Entrepreneurs low in neuroticism are emotionally stable, resilient, and calm under pressure. They manage stress effectively, maintain a positive outlook in challenging situations, and are less prone to anxiety or mood swings.

2. Locus of Control:

The Locus of Control Theory posits that individuals perceive the outcomes of their actions as either within their control (internal locus of control) or outside their control (external locus of control). Those with an internal locus of control believe they have the power to influence events through their actions, while those with an external locus of control attribute outcomes to external factors such as luck, fate, or powerful others.

Role of Locus of Control in Entrepreneurship:

  1. Internal Locus of Control: Entrepreneurs with an internal locus of control are more likely to take initiative, assume responsibility for their decisions, and actively seek out opportunities. They believe in their ability to shape their destiny, take calculated risks, and persist in the face of challenges, essential qualities for entrepreneurial success.
  2. External Locus of Control: Entrepreneurs with an external locus of control may struggle to take ownership of their actions and outcomes. They may attribute success or failure to external factors beyond their control, leading to a sense of helplessness or dependency. While external factors certainly influence entrepreneurial outcomes, individuals with an external locus of control may be less proactive in seizing opportunities and overcoming obstacles.

3. Self-Efficacy:

Self-Efficacy Theory posits that individuals’ beliefs in their capabilities to perform specific tasks influence their behavior, motivation, and success. According to Albert Bandura, self-efficacy beliefs are shaped by four main sources: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and physiological and emotional states.

Role of Self-Efficacy in Entrepreneurship:

  1. Mastery Experiences: Successful entrepreneurial experiences serve as mastery experiences that enhance individuals’ self-efficacy beliefs. Entrepreneurs who have achieved previous successes are more likely to believe in their ability to overcome challenges and achieve their entrepreneurial goals in the future.
  2. Vicarious Experiences: Observing others similar to oneself succeed in entrepreneurial endeavors can boost individuals’ self-efficacy beliefs. Entrepreneurs who witness role models overcoming obstacles and achieving success are more likely to believe in their own capabilities and pursue entrepreneurial opportunities with confidence.
  3. Social Persuasion: Positive feedback, encouragement, and support from peers, mentors, and significant others can influence individuals’ self-efficacy beliefs. Entrepreneurs who receive affirmations of their skills and capabilities are more likely to develop high self-efficacy beliefs, empowering them to pursue entrepreneurial ventures with conviction.
  4. Physiological and Emotional States: Physical and emotional states, such as stress, anxiety, or confidence, can impact individuals’ self-efficacy beliefs. Entrepreneurs who manage stress effectively, maintain a positive outlook, and regulate their emotions are more likely to possess high self-efficacy beliefs, enabling them to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship with resilience and determination.


The trait approach offers valuable insights into the personal characteristics and qualities that shape entrepreneurial behavior and success. By understanding key traits and theories, aspiring entrepreneurs can cultivate the mindset and skills necessary to embark on their entrepreneurial journeys, drive innovation, and create lasting impact in their communities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *