TECHNOLOGICAL ENTREPRENEURS AT THE UNIVERSITY AND OPTIMISTIC BIAS
There is a controversy about the personality traits which are characteristics of the entrepreneur profile. For example, the Irish economic theorist Richard Cantillon pointed out that one of the most important traits of entrepreneurs was the ability to deal with uncertainty. Although the view of the entrepreneur as a particular type of personality has recently been threatened by authors encouraging a functional perspective (i.e., Gartner, 1989), the view of the entrepreneur as a person who has a special personality configuration is still in the research program of social scientists (McKenzie, Ugbah and Smothers, 2007).
Optimism is considered a valid and reliable factor of personality (Scheier, Carver and Bridges, 1994) and it has been showed that people is, broadly speaking, optimistic biased (Weinstein, 1980). The objective of this paper is compare if there are differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, as well as between different entrepreneur’s profiles, in their degree of optimistic bias. The taxonomy introduced by Rogoff and Lee (1996) has been used and a sample of university teaching staff has been asked to fill in a web-based questionnaire. The questionnaire included an optimistic bias scale which was integrated by three sub-scales varying on the degree of controllability (controllable events, uncontrollable events and neutral events).
The results show no relation between the entrepreneur profile and the optimistic bias. Despite the fact that the non-entrepreneurs professors seem to be more optimistic, there are not statistic significance differences. Thus, our results support the hypothesis that entrepreneurs are not differentiable for their risk perception about live events. Nevertheless, some appreciations must be done. Firstly, although the whole optimistic bias scale and its sub-scales showed optimal levels of internal consistency, we did not find evidences about its validity. Thus, our results should be taken into account carefully.
Our results add evidences related to the detection of potential technological entrepreneurs. Thus, this research is useful because it goes deeply into the nature of entrepreneur and because it gives keys to detect potential technological entrepreneurs at the university. From a theoretical point of view, although we have noticed some methodological problems in our research, we propose a review of the concept of risk taking behaviour related to optimism because our results do not agree with the classical risky view of entrepreneurs.
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