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Often, it is said that an entrepreneur is equated to a small business and is a person who is an 'owner-manager'. This is an entrepreneur in its most simple of contexts. In fact, the term entrepreneur is much broader and complex. Not all small businesses are entrepreneurial and not all owner- managers are entrepreneurs. (Kirby, 2002)
It seems that there is no agreed definition of what an entrepreneur is. For example, Richard Cantillon appeared to have originally introduced the term as; 'Someone who specializes in organizing and assuming the risks of business in return for profits'. More recently, scholars have been portraying the entrepreneur in a less economic orientated way. Kao in 1989 suggested that an entrepreneur be defined in terms of 'tasks' so that the job description would include creativity, interpersonal skills and leadership. (Short and Dunn, No Date)
Even though it is not possible to define precisely what an entrepreneur is, it is possible to identify one. This can be measured using the General Enterprising Tendency (GET) test. The test is designed to measure personal characteristics usually associated with an enterprising person. (McMillan Publishers, 2003)
My GET Analysis
This test has been developed to aid the expansion of enterprise within education and it aims to express the above tendencies in 'statement' form and measure enterprise aptitudes against norms. (McMillan Publishers, 2003) The measures tested are:
Need for achievement (Nach) which was first advocated by McClelland in 1961. Entrepreneurs will choose situations including; individual responsibility, Task orientation and anticipation of future possibilities. My Score in this category is 7. This shows that I have a fairly low Nach as the average score is 9. It is the prospect of achievement, not money that will tend to produce high GET scores; I feel my score is low in this measure as external benefits (money) are what drive me to succeed. (Kirby, 2002)
Need for autonomy is where entrepreneurs are categorised as wanting to be in control, hence having a higher need for autonomy and a greater fear of external control than many other occupational groups (Caird, 1991, Cromie and O'Donoghue, 1992). I believe this is an accurate portrait of my personality, with my gaining the average score of 4. In certain situations, I thrive with being in control whereas where I am not confident in a particular task I accept help willingly (Kirby, 2002).
Creative Tendency shows entrepreneurs to be innovative; they tend to think in non- conventional ways and challenge existing assumptions. My GET score for this category was 5, whereas the average is 8. This was a surprise to me as I see myself possessing these characteristics. I tend to look for ways to challenge and improve existing situations. I feel the reason for this low score was that I often think in conventional ways and look for the logic behind specific methods. (Kirby, 2002)
The fourth measure is risk taking. I scored the average of 8 in this measure. I feel this is fairly accurate as I do often take risks yet am not over or under ambitious. Due to the nature of entrepreneurs' roles in economy, it is obvious that entrepreneurs cannot be adverse to risk and are able to evaluate likely benefits against likely costs. I take risks in situations where I believe the overall outcome could be beneficial but will not tend to take the risk when there is less than a 50% guarantee of success. (Chowdhury, 2010)
Drive and determination was my highest score of 9, with an average of 8. This shows I take advantage of opportunities, am self-confident, show considerable determination and believe in controlling my own destiny. I agree with this characterisation entirely. I look for ways to improve myself by taking opportunities given to me and when I start a task, I have the determination to complete it to a high standard (Kirby, 2002).
There has been some debate within the academic community as to whether universities should contribute in promoting enterprise. To some, entrepreneurs are born and not bred while to others, the required characteristics can be taught. (Kirby, 2002)
"Personality is the sum total of an individual's characteristics which make him unique" (Hollander)
The trait theory of personality states that people are born with established personality characteristics. It does not take into account the influence of the environment in the formation of personality and it conflicts directly with social learning views. (Bonny et al. 2004) The GET test is said to be controversial, particularly in respect of whether measures analyzed are inherent or learned. (McMillan Publishers, 2003)
A psychologist named Cattell (1965) identified 16 groups of traits, which he claimed were in all individuals at varying degrees of intensity. Traits are arranged in hierarchal form with the primary or strongest overriding weaker or secondary traits. (See appendix 1) (Bonny et al. 2004)
Traits may have limited predictive use as people learn and change and traits may develop as a result of entrepreneurial activity. Required traits are likely to vary from market to market so validity of the 'set' traits set out in the GET test may be seen as limited. (Chowdhury, 2010)
Key problems in the psychological testing of entrepreneurs relate to varying definitions of the entrepreneur, numerous entrepreneurial characteristics, uncertainty about the significance of entrepreneurial characteristics, and lack of rigour in test development. (Caird S, 1993)
Caird defines enterprising tendency as; 'the extent to which an individual has a tendency to set up and run projects'. If this is to be believed then people could benefit from a valid and reliable instrument which depicts the extent to which possible enterprising individuals have similar personal profiles to successful enterprising individuals, which is where Caird's GET test comes into practice. (Cromie and Callaghan, 1997)
The intention when establishing the GET test was that it be used to provide support to business communities by measuring the potential of those wishing to set up a business (McMillan Publishers, 2003). Results reveal that the GET tool is internally consistent. It correlates well with other measures of entrepreneurial attributes and it differentiates between the degree of enterprise demonstrated by public and private sector employees. However, an obvious downfall of the test is that it does not distinguish statistically between entrepreneurs and managers. (Cromie and Callaghan, 1997)
It is also important to note that Stormer et al. (1999) found little correlation between measures of the General Enterprising Tendency (GET) test and measures of success. The only significant correlation found was between the overall GET measure and autonomy element with plans to expand a business. Similarly, Begley and Boyd (1987) found only weak links between psychological attributes and financial performance of a firm.
Another restriction of Caird's questionnaire is that of the limitation imposed by a pencil and paper test. Alongside the usual problems of question comprehension and the motivation of participants, Huczynski and Buchanan (1991) point out that in assessing any socially acceptable concept; there is a possibility that respondents will not be truthful. They will indicate how they would like to be rather than how they are. (Cromie and Callaghan, 1997)
Olsen and Bosserman (1984) suggest that individuals will exhibit entrepreneurial behaviour when they possess a combination of these three attributes:
Role orientation - emphasising effectiveness
Abilities - to think both intuitively and rationally
Motivation - the driving force behind action (Kirby, 2002)
The GET test highlights these in broader categories but subsequently shows the same combination as to what will make an individual a potential entrepreneur. Governments around the world have become interested in the creation of cultures that would promote enterprise. Subsequently education systems world-wide have been changed to bring this about (universities UK, 2000)
In terms of entrepreneurial potential, the GET test can help guide an employer on a potential employees characteristics and attributes and can help them analyse what improvements need to be made for a person's full entrepreneurial potential to be recognised and achieved. A study revealed that 90% of all organisations had leaders with high enterprising tendencies which show that leadership is another trait that could be required by a CEO if an organisation is to survive. (Winning teams, 2005)
It is believed that if entrepreneurial behaviour studies were pursued and specific behaviours of entrepreneurial success could be identified, then these behaviours could be taught to potential entrepreneurs. (Short and Dunn, No Date) This goes against theorists who believe all traits are inherited and not learnt.
There are limitations as discussed previously but overall, the GET test is a Valid and reliable instrument for assessing enterprising tendencies, although a person should not solely be judged on their scores for this test as enterprising and entrepreneurship is such a broad topic with no specific definition as of yet and the GET test does not take environmental factors into consideration.
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Chowdhury, D (2010) "The Nature of Enterprise", Enterprise and Innovation - Lecture Material.
Cromie, S and Callaghan, I (1997) "Assessing Enterprising Attributes - The usefulness of Caird's GET test", Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 4,pp. 65-71
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