Small Business Economics

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 203–231 | Cite as

Integrating psychological approaches to entrepreneurship: the Entrepreneurial Personality System (EPS)

  • Martin Obschonka
  • Michael Stuetzer


Understanding the psychological nature and development of the individual entrepreneur is at the core of contemporary entrepreneurship research. Since the individual functions as a totality of his or her single characteristics (involving the interplay of biological, psychosocial, and context-related levels), a person-oriented approach focusing on intraindividual dynamics seems to be particularly fruitful to infer realistic implications for practice such as entrepreneurship education and promotion. Applying a person-oriented perspective, this paper integrates existing psychological approaches to entrepreneurship and presents a new, person-oriented model of entrepreneurship, the Entrepreneurial Personality System (EPS). In the empirical part, this model guided us to bridge two separate research streams dealing with entrepreneurial personality: research on broad traits like the Big Five and research on specific traits like risk-taking, self-efficacy, and internal locus of control. We examine a gravity effect of broad traits, as assumed in the EPS framework, by analyzing large personality data sets from three countries. The results reveal a consistent gravity effect of an intraindividual entrepreneurial Big Five profile on the more malleable psychological factors. Implications for entrepreneurship research and practice are discussed.


Personality Traits Big Five Identity Entrepreneurship Self-employment Biology Context Development Psychology 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany
  2. 2.Center for Applied Developmental ScienceFriedrich-Schiller-University JenaJenaGermany
  3. 3.Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State UniversityMannheimGermany
  4. 4.Faculty of Economic Sciences and MediaIlmenau University of TechnologyIlmenauGermany

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