Entrepreneurs: Between individuality and social embeddedness

Tina B. Kregar, Bostjan Antoncic

Abstract


Purpose. During the analysis of the entrepreneurs’ behaviour entrepreneurship scholars often examinated whether entrepreneurs are homo-economicus or homo reciprocans. The most frequently asked question was whether entrepreneurs are rational, self-interested persons who are motivated by the desire of wealth, or whether these individuals act as team players who are motivated by social welfare. The main purpose of the paper is to present both aspects on entrepreneurship, namely psychological and sociological, and contribute new knowledge about entrepreneurs’ behaviour during the entrepreneurial process.

Methodology. The main goals of the research will be achieved through a literature review on the entrepreneurial behaviour from two different perspectives. First, personal characteristics that distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs will be analyzed and discussed. Second, a social network perspective on entrepreneurship will be presented. The impact of social networks on entrepreneurship and its outcomes will be analyzed.

Results. The research findings are represented by thorough analysis of the entrepreneurial behaviour in terms of individual characteristics of entrepreneurs and the social context in which entrepreneurs are embedded. The research results show that in order to better understand the entrepreneurs’ behaviour and motivations during the various stages of the entrepreneurial process both perspectives should be taken into consideration. On one hand, entrepreneurs are born, but on the other hand individuals can compensate the lack of specific characteristics and knowledge through social network. The behaviour of entrepreneurs should be therefore analysed holistically, by examining both their personality characteristics as well as their embeddedness into the social context.

The theoretical contribution. The present research merges both the psychological and sociological perspectives on entrepreneurship and provides new knowledge in the field of entrepreneurship. It represents a review of the most important entrepreneurs’ personal characteristics and analysis the role of social networks in entrepreneurship.

Practical implications. The literature review indicates that both perspectives on entrepreneurship, psychological and sociological, affect the behaviour of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs should be aware that the context in which they are embedded significantly affects their behaviour and consequently their firm performance. Social networks in terms of personal and interorganizational networks must be seen as a strategic tool for improving firm performance.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs, personal characteristics, social networks, entrepreneurial behaviour.

Paper type: Theoretical paper.


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