News from Cass Business School

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Thursday, 24 September, 2009

Some say entrepreneurship is built into a person's DNA, and this week Scott Shane, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western University (Cleveland, Ohio) presented the results of his research into the links between genetics and entrepreneurship at Cass.

With his colleagues at King's College London, and the University of Cyprus, Professor Shane has been conducting behavioural genetics (twin) and molecular genetics (association) studies of entrepreneurship and the results indicate a genetic component.  In his regular blog, 'You're the Boss'for the New York Times, Professor Shane summarised the presentation at the School as follows:

The tendency to be an entrepreneur is heritable (heritability is the proportion of difference between individuals explained by genetic factors).

The tendency to identify new business opportunities is also heritable and the tendency to identify business opportunities and the tendency to start new businesses have a common genetic source.

Self-employment income is heritable, which suggests genetics affects not just the tendency to engage in entrepreneurship but also the ability to perform it.

The tendency to be an entrepreneur and personality traits of extraversion, openness to experience, and sensation-seeking have a common genetic component, as does the recognition of business opportunities and the personality trait of openness to experience.

Nick Badman, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, and Vangelis Souitaris, Professor of Entrepreneurship, welcomed Professor Shane as the guest of honour at an intimate invitation-only event at Cass for successful entrepreneurs, where he outlined the Illusions of Entrepreneurship. The event, which concluded with a lively round-table discussion over dinner, was attended by several leading British entrepreneurs including Brent Hoberman, co-founder of; David Barrass, Chairman of Material Advantage Group; Mike Clare, founder of Dreams; David Eastgate, Chief Executive of the Hyde Group; Edgar Miller, Managing Director of Palladian; and Rob Wirszycz, Managing Partner of Fortus Partners.

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Scott Shane, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Case Western University, Cleveland, Ohio

Vangelis Souitaris, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Cass Business School

Nick Badman, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Cass Business School

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