We review the extensive literature since 2000 on the personality traits of entrepreneurs. We first consider baseline personality traits like the Big-5 model, self-efficacy and innovativeness, locus of control, and the need for achievement. We then consider risk attitudes and goals and aspirations of entrepreneurs. Within each area, we separate studies by the type of entrepreneurial behavior considered: entry into entrepreneurship, performance outcomes, and exit from entrepreneurship. This literature shows common results and many points of disagreement, reflective of the heterogeneous nature of entrepreneurship. We label studies by the type of entrepreneurial population studied (e.g., Main Street vs. those backed by venture capital) to identify interesting and irreducible parts of this heterogeneity, while also identifying places where we anticipate future large-scale research and the growing depth of the field are likely to clarify matters. There are many areas, like how firm performance connects to entrepreneurial personality, that are woefully understudied and ripe for major advances if the appropriate cross-disciplinary ingredients are assembled.
Personality Traits of Entrepreneurs collects and organize the latest findings on the prevalence of various personality traits among the entrepreneurial population and their impact on venture performance covering academic work ranging from economics to psychology to management studies. This survey focuses on three core themes: (1) the personality traits of entrepreneurs and how they compare to other groups; (2) the attitudes towards risk that entrepreneurs display; and (3) the overall goals and aspirations that entrepreneurs bring to their pursuits. These themes cover most of the main theoretical contributions to the entrepreneurial traits literature, which are quite diverse, while at the same time enabling the identification of common concerns across apparently separate research streams. An appendix provides a short discussion of some major factors influencing entrepreneurial decisions beyond personality: demographics, household assets and financing constraints, measurable skills like work experience and education, and local environment. For those interested in measuring entrepreneurial risk attitudes and personality traits in their own work, an additional online appendix documents some of the survey instruments commonly utilized.