By Bryan Caplan
I just came across a fun paper that asks “Is the Tendency to Engage in Self-employment Genetic?” (Management Science 2008). As usual, the answer is yes. Based on a sample of over 3000 British twins, the authors estimate that 48% of the variance in entrepreneurship is genetic. The rest is noise; nurture once again fails to rear its hopeful head. Highlight:
[O]ur results offer the potential to reinvigorate a longstanding, but not universally agreed upon, aspect of entrepreneurship research: the role of individual differences in the tendency of people to become entrepreneurs. Although some entrepreneurship researchers consider individual differences to be an important explanatory factor in who becomes an entrepreneur (Shane and Venkataraman 2000), many researchers believe that individual differences are unimportant (Gartner and Carter 2003) or even a dead end (Aldrich and Wiedenmeyer 1993). As a result, in recent years, the field of entrepreneurship has tended to focus less on the role of individuals and more on the role of environmental conditions to explain the tendency of people to become entrepreneurs (Thornton and Flynn 2003). Our results indicate that individual differences matter considerably, and offer an avenue for invigorating research on the role of individual differences in entrepreneurship.
Austrian economists ought to care about this, but will they?