Small Business Economics

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 851–869 | Cite as

Entrepreneurial personalities in political leadership

  • Martin ObschonkaEmail author
  • Christian Fisch


Societies around the globe respond to the contemporary technological and economic change by defining entrepreneurship and innovation as core principles for future competitive advantage. Does this rise of the “entrepreneurial society” also imply that entrepreneurial personalities are becoming increasingly widespread and powerful in political leadership? Joseph A. Schumpeter already argued that highly influential entrepreneurs are unique and show a certain personality pattern that can be described as being not only high in creativity and change orientation but also high in competitiveness and rule-breaking. It is interesting to ask whether such Schumpeterian personalities indeed play an increasingly important role in political leadership, given that daily routines of policy leaders, at least at first glance, usually require rather non-entrepreneurial strategies such as careful, risk-averse diplomacy. To address this question, we first survey the existing literature on personality and political leadership. We further present a novel personality analysis of an influential business leader that recently made a transition to political leadership: Donald J. Trump, the incumbent US president. Employing a language-based, computerized method of analyzing Twitter statements, we compare his online personality to the online personality of other influential entrepreneurs and business managers, who do not engage in political leadership. The results indicate that Trump is indeed distinct in that he shows stronger features of a Schumpeterian personality. However, he is also comparatively high in Neuroticism. We discuss these findings focusing on the potential implications of a concentration of entrepreneurial mindsets in political leadership.


Personality Big Five Political leadership Donald J. Trump Entrepreneurship 

JEL classification

L20 L26 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.QUT Business School (Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research, School of Management)Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of ManagementTrier UniversityTrierGermany
  3. 3.Erasmus Institute of Management (ERIM)Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

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