This is a subscriber-only article. Join Entrepreneur+ today for access

Learn More

Already have an account?

Sign in
Entrepreneur Plus - Short White
For Subscribers

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made? Two professors argue if the instinct to be your own boss is a product of nature or nurture.

By Jason Daley

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's an age-old question: Are entrepreneurs a special breed, born into this world with a drive and need to succeed that most of humanity lacks, or can they can be created through education, experience and mentorship? We spoke to two academics who have strong opinions on the matter.

That question has taken on urgency recently. In the past five years, multiple studies have indicated that there may be an "entrepreneur gene"--or at least that people with certain genetic characteristics and personality traits are more likely to be successful entrepreneurs than others. In his 2010 book Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders, Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, suggests that genes don't just influence whether a person will start a business; they may even determine how much money a person will earn. In other words, some people are born to be alpha wolves, and the rest will work in the mailroom.

It's a divisive thought--especially for Americans bred on the idea that with education and drive they can be anything they choose. Such ideas call to question entrepreneurial education as an institution and put forth the specter of business schools taking DNA cheek swabs along with application packets. While it's unlikely we'll see a Brave New World version of business education anytime soon, such concepts do put the idea of entrepreneurial education under the microscope. Does it work for everybody? If people are born entrepreneurs, do they need to read endless case studies, or would a few accounting and ethics classes be enough?

The rest of this article is locked.

Join Entrepreneur+ today for access.

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Sign In