Universidad de Almería (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 456-461
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
The definition of entrepreneur is quite elusive. For instance, Rogoff and Lee (1996) claimed that entrepreneurship has confused researchers in social sciences the way subatomic particles have puzzled physicists. However, from a methodological point of view, efforts have been made to introduce a method to classify entrepreneurs. For example, López et al. (2009), based on Huefner, Hunt and Robinson (1996), proposed a definition of potential entrepreneur which could be useful for research purposes. They defined potential entrepreneur as undergraduate students who think they are entrepreneurial persons but have not yet owned and managed a business. Another important type of entrepreneur is the technological entrepreneur (Roberts, 1989; Hsu et al., 2007).

We have studied the relationship between optimism and pessimism and entrepreneurial attitudes among university undergraduate students. We used the revised Life Orientation Test [LOT-R] (Scheier et al., 1994) as a measure of optimism and pessimism. We hypothesize that, according to classical studies (Gartner, 1988; Harold et al., 1982), technological potential entrepreneurs are more optimistic and less pessimistic than non-potential entrepreneurs.

A sample of 205 undergraduate students [male = 71 (34.6%), female = 134, age mean = 23.3, SD = 5.6, age range = 18-50] was asked to fill a web-based questionnaire containing the Life Orientation Test as well as a set of questions designed for classification purposes. Participants were classified as non-potential entrepreneurs (n = 46), general potential entrepreneurs (n = 77), and technological potential entrepreneurs (n = 73). No payment or reward was given to participants.

Our results showed a main effect of the entrepreneur profile on both the LOT-R scale, F(3, 201) = 4.09, p < .01, r = .24, and the optimism dimension of the LOT-R scale, F(3, 201) = 5.93, p <.01, r = .29, whereas there was not a significant effect on the pessimistic dimension of the LOT-R, F(3, 201) = 1.44, p = .34. Post hoc analysis revealed that people classified as non-potential entrepreneurs were less optimistic than the technological potential entrepreneurs using the LOT-R. It was also found that non-potential entrepreneurs were less optimistic than both the general potential entrepreneurs and technological potential entrepreneurs when using the optimism dimension of the LOT-R.

Our results contrast with those presented by López and García (2009) who studied the relationship between technological entrepreneurs and optimistic bias at the university. They found no significant optimistic bias in a sample of university professors classified as technological entrepreneurs compared with a sample of university professor self defined as non-technological entrepreneurs. In any case, our results are useful from an applied point of view and from a theoretical perspective. From an applied perspective, our results could be taken into account when designing training programs to improve entrepreneur’s skills. For example, potential entrepreneurs could be trained to manage adaptively their optimism in order not to be over optimistic or to shift from optimism properly (i. e., Carroll et al., 2006; Sweeny et al., 2006). In addition, our results could be useful to understand and define the personality of technological potential entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship, high education, optimism, technology.