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'Trait can be defined as "a distinguishing characteristic or quality, especially of one's personal nature" (dictionary.com), "a distinguishing feature of your personal nature" (princeton.edu) and "a characteristic or element of a demonstrable knowledge, skill, ability, or attitude that can be measured; usually stated along a continuum or scale" (lamission.edu). "A trait may be considered as a relatively broad and stable disposition to behave in certain ways that are relatively transituational, that is, a given train may be manifested in a variety of situations" (Allan R. Buss and Poley 1976). In other words, trait is something that distinguishes one to another and it can be measured and had become the main part when studying personality, psychological assessment, and individual differences (Allan R. Buss and Poley 1976).
In the field of entrepreneurship it is difficult to find a literature that able to define the traits for an entrepreneur. As point out by Liang and Dunn (2008) there is a major gap in entrepreneurship theory that able to explain who the entrepreneur is and how their traits relate to new venture. Gartner (1988) explained that entrepreneurship trait as a particular personality type, a fixed state of existence, a describable species that one might found a picture of in a field guide (page 48). Different approaches by different researchers while discussing the entrepreneurship traits with various facets had resulted to a long list of entrepreneurial traits.
However, the following traits have been frequently used in entrepreneurship research such as locus of control, need for achievement, tolerance for ambiguity, need for achievement, risk taking propensity, and innovation (Gurol and Atsan 2006). These traits have been regarded as the determinant of the tendency for entrepreneurship and also distinguishing between entrepreneurs from small business owner and managers (Stewart et al, 1998; Entrialgo et al, 2000).
The entrepreneurs and nonentrepreneurs can be differentiate by traits which result in entrepreneurs may have a greater internalized locus of control, a higher need for achievement, a greater risk-taking propensity, and values similar with action orientation, independence, and self-reliance (Wooten and Timmerman 1999).
It is easier to study human traits using the Five-Factor Model which has been around for many years which has become major reference in studying human personality. The FFM basic dimensions are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience. The using of Five-Factor Model in personality research has been heavily debate with those who oppose or against it (McCrae and John 1992). The year of 1980s saw the model become widely accepted by researchers in many different areas as a fundamental dimension of personality which provide a common language for researchers and as a guide for more comprehensive studies on individuals' personality (McCrae and John 1992). The FFM had become the model of reference and the object of research which looking to establish and confirm its validity (Rolland 2002) and would provide a valuable tool in construction of questionnaire as it is robust and gaining increasing acceptance in the research community (Envick and Langford 2000).
Five-factor Model or the Big Five
Five-Factor Model or Big Five personality traits are five broad factors or dimensions of personality in the field of psychology which have been developed through lexical analysis. The 'lexical hypothesis' was develop by Sir Francis Galton (1884) which encoded the differences in human personality into single terms in some or all of the world's languages (Goldberg 1993). The process of giving names to its factor is not emerging easily. In the beginning, the model have been debated heavily surrounding its concepts (McCrae and John 1992) with full of controversy and being criticize by many of researchers which finally gives its names to the factor that is Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience.
Extraversion refer to the number of relationships with which one is comfortable (Howard and Howard 1995), which is associated with the quantity and intensity of relationships with one's social environment (Rolland 2002; Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004), and needs to be around others (Singh and DeNoble 2003). Extraversion is characterized by the tendency to be sociable, talkative, assertive, and outgoing (Singh and DeNoble 2003) and seek contacts with the environment with energy, spirit, enthusiasm, and confidence (Rolland 2002). People with high on extraversion are gregarious, outgoing, warm, and friendly (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009), which characterized are apparent in sociability, higher energy levels, positive emotionality, and excitement seeking (Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004). People with high level of extraversion also have the tendency to be leader, more physically and verbally active, and more friendly and outgoing around people than most people tend to be (Howard and Howard 1995).
On the other hand, people with low level of extraversion (or introverts) tend to be more independent, reserved, steady, and more comfortable with being alone (Howard and Howard 1995). Introverts also prefer having space (physical or mental) in order to recover energy which tend to pursue solitary activities such as quiet walks, reading, meditating, and sharing time with a select few friends (Singh and DeNoble 2003).
Agreeableness is the tendency to be good-natured, cooperative and caring, friendly and approachable (Singh and DeNoble 2003) which assess one's attitude and behaviour toward other people (Howard and Howard 1995; Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009) and deals with the quality of interpersonal relationships (Rolland 2002). Individuals high in agreeableness tend to be courteous, forgiving, and flexible in dealing with others (Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004). Individuals possess high quality in agreeableness also being characterized as trusting, altruistic, cooperative, and modest (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009). They are compassionate, giving, warm, and considerate (Singh and DeNoble 2003). They tend to show sympathy and concern for the needs of others and tend to defer to others in the face of conflict (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009).
Singh and DeNoble (2003) labelled individuals with low level of agreeableness as an Antagonist. They have a less need to be liked by others, focused more on their own needs than the needs of others and might be viewed by others as cold and distant (Singh and DeNoble 2003). Low agreeableness individuals are described as a person who only follows his inner voice and more concerned with exercising his power, a manipulative, self-centered, suspicious and ruthless (Howard and Howard 1995; Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009).
Conscientiousness is a personality dimension that describes an individual's level of achievement, work motivation, organization and planning, self-control and acceptance of traditional norms, and virtue and responsibility toward others (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009). Conscientiousness also refers to the number of goals on which individuals is focused and exhibit self-discipline associated to such focus (Howard and Howard 1995). It is a dimension that focuses on issues such as orientation, persistency of behaviour, and control over impulses (Rolland 2002). Individuals with high level of conscientiousness have the tendency to be diligent, well organized, persistent, and achievement oriented (Singh and DeNoble 2003).
Meanwhile, Howard and Howard (1995) called individuals with low level of conscientiousness as a flexible person. These individuals pursue a larger number of goals which caused them to have a less focused on goals, more hedonistic, and more lax with respect to goals (Howard and Howard 1995). Singh and DeNoble (2003) labelled them as free-spirited, unencumbered by responsibility and the need to be reliable. Among other characteristics of flexible person include carelessness, negligence, and unreliability (Goldberg 1993).
Neuroticism or emotional stability refers to the degree to which one had emotional control (Singh and DeNoble 2003). It takes into account of individual differences in the inclination to construct, perceive, and feel reality as being problematic, threatening and difficult, and feeling towards negative emotions (Rolland 2002). Howard (1995) refers this facet as negative emotionality which refers to the number of strength of stimuli required to draw negative emotions in a person. More resilient person need a greater stimuli in the environment to bother them compared to reactive person (Howard and Howard 1995). Neurotic are individuals with low emotional stability and highly sensitive to negative feedback, easily bothered by the smallest stresses in their life and tend to become more discourage by small failures (Singh and DeNoble 2003; Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009).
Howard and Howard (1995) labelled a person with low level of neuroticism as a Resilient. They tend to experience life on a more rational level than most people and appear not influenced to what's going on around them. They are more relaxed, not getting anger easily, slowly discouraged, hard to embarrass, resists urges easily, and handle stress without difficulty (Howard and Howard 1995). Emotional stable individuals are able to keep their composure, even under stressful situations, are self-confident and show high-esteem (Singh and DeNoble 2003). They are calm, stable, even-tempered, and hardy or tough (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009).
Openness (to experience) refers to the number of individuals interests is attracted, the depth to which those interests are pursued (Howard and Howard 1995) and their tendency to be creative, original, and receptive to new experience (Singh and DeNoble 2003). It is a personality trait that describes someone who is intellectually curious, imaginative, and creative who seek out new ideas and alternative values and aesthetic standards (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009). Open individuals are flexible and responsive to new ideas, and have more interest which subsequently has less depth within each interest (Howard and Howard 1995; Singh and DeNoble 2003).
In contrast, individuals who low on openness are more conventional and more comfortable with well-establish methods and topics which favour the status quo and are not open to new experience (Singh and DeNoble 2003). Howard and Howard (1995) on the other hand called this type of individuals as a Preserver. They have narrower interests, more conventional, and more comfortable with the familiar. They exhibits the following characteristics among others such as focuses on here and now, uninterested in art, ignores and discounts feelings, prefer the familiar, and hold a conservative values (Howard and Howard 1995).
As a result of long-historical debate and discussion on the Five-factor Model, McCrae and John (1992) had made factor definers that summarized the Five-Factor Model traits. From their various studies on men and women, by psychologist through item checklist, self-sort, and revised NEO personality inventory, all of the adjectives or items are summarized in Table 1 (Appendix 1). Howard and Howard (1995) had made a classification of each trait into its facets and had made two extreme continuums for each of the facets together with its adjectives. They use the same name for each of the Five-factor Model traits except the Neuroticism which they called it as a Negative Emotionality (Howard and Howard 1995).
For the purpose of this research, the following table have been constructed which is adapted from the work of McCrae and John (1992) and Howard and Howard (1995). It simplifies all of the adjectives from McCrae and John (1992) works with the addition of Howard and Howard extreme continuum. This will help the researcher to understand the traits, facets and the adjectives better and finally able to construct questionnaire from this.
The Five-factor Model dimensions have been used extensively in the personality research. It can be seen in the investigation on criteria of job performance (Barrick and Mount 1991), leadership effectiveness (McCormack and Mellor 2002), career success (Seibert and Kraimer 2001), and career satisfaction (Lounsbury, Loveland et al. 2003). There are various outcomes from the research due to the nature of questions need to be answered and methods use by the researchers. Barrick and Mount (1991) found that Conscientiousness was found to be "a consistently valid predictor for all jobs and appears to tap traits which important to the accomplishment of work tasks in all jobs".
McCormack and Mellor (2002) summarized that high conscientiousness also had been found as one of a character on effective leader together with openness and low extraversion. In relation to career success or promotion, extraversion was found significantly correlated compared to others personality traits (Seibert and Kraimer 2001). To add into this, Lounsbury, Loveland et al (2003) agree that personality traits are related to career success where traits such as neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion and openness was significantly related to career and job satisfaction.
Even though the there are various outcomes from the research due to the nature of questions that need to be answered by each researcher, they all agreed on the consistency of personality traits of Five-factor model related to career or job with other research (Lounsbury, Loveland et al. 2003) and its effectiveness as a tool in mapping personality traits (McCormack and Mellor 2002). McCrae and John (1992) conclude that the FFM can be a valuable instrument for psychologists in the different fields such as education, industries, organizations, and clinics in conducting individual personality assessment due to its systematic approach and natural framework.
As a result of the increasing use of FFM in the personality research, several researches on personality using the FFM have been seen in relation to entrepreneurship (Wooten and Timmerman 1999; Envick and Langford 2000; Envick and Langford 2003; Singh and DeNoble 2003; Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004; Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009). Wooten, Timmerman, and Folger (1999) use Five-Factor Model in their research trying to explain the behaviour of the individuals towards entrepreneurship to predict new business venture. Comparative studies have been conducted by utilizing the Five-factor model in searching personality traits between entrepreneurs and managers (Envick and Langford 2000), and also between male and female entrepreneurs (Envick and Langford 2003).
Singh and DeNoble (2003) used the FFM in searching for differences in the traits factors in relation to individual views toward self-employment while Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al (2004) try to find the linkage between personality traits with venture survival. Zhao, Seibert, and Lumpkin (2009) had conducted comprehensive meta-analyses research on entrepreneurial intentions and performance in relations to individual personality.
In predicting new business ventures by downsized-employee, it is found that the behaviour of the managers who start new ventures is more likely to be emotionally stable, suspicious of others, tough minded, and more expedient which suggest that ability to work under tension (Wooten and Timmerman 1999). They also found that business starters is less open to experienced and more group dependent which not particularly fit the stereotype of an entrepreneur. This finding is supported by Singh and DeNoble (2003) which found that openness or open to experienced did influenced the entrepreneurial intention of an individual. While comparing male and female entrepreneur, they found that openness had positive correlation to the entrepreneurial intention where male respondent have higher intention than female.
Envick and Langford (2000) had conducted a study to differentiates between entrepreneurs and managers using the Five-factor Model of personality with the argument that both groups have unique distinctions and radically different on each other. Entrepreneurs are more opportunity recognizer and pursuer and they are more innovative than the managers. They discover that the entrepreneur is less conscientious and agreeable than the managers which means that they are more impulsive, risky and flexible and also more independent and self-interest (Envick and Langford 2000).
Another comparative study also has been done by Envick and Langford in year 2003. They try to compare male and female entrepreneurs' personality traits using the Five-factor model. They believed that there are similarities and differences between males and females entrepreneurs' personality (Envick and Langford 2003). Both males and females entrepreneur have been found having similar reasons and goals in starting their business. Both of them also found to have optimistic expectations on their ventures. Envick and Langford (2003) found that female's entrepreneurs are more open than males while males entrepreneur are having higher conscientiousness than females entrepreneur.
Efforts to measure the entrepreneur performance using the Five-factor model also have been seen being conducted by several researchers. Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al (2004) had conducted a longitudinal study to investigate the relationship between the entrepreneur's personality and the overall long-term survivability of the venture. They argue that because of the inconsistent findings on the personality studies by the entrepreneurship researchers, Five-factor Model is the right instrument to use because of studies on entrepreneurship personality is a psychological studies which must follow the same 'rule of the games' as other studies of psychological traits found in the mainstream of the discipline of psychology (Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004). On the other hand this model has shown to be robust, valid and reliable for the use on personality research (Barrick and Mount 1991; Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004).
Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al (2004) found that conscientiousness and openness to experience have the significant relationship with venture survival where conscientiousness has the positive effect while the later has the negative effect. Being hardworking, achievement-oriented, and persevering results increase the likelihood of venture survival. On the other hand , those who stick to the task at hand rather than being open to multiple selection of opportunities are more suitable to guide the venture into maturity stage (Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004) which they think give plausible result. They argue that openness to experience has a significant relationship with the propensity to start a new venture but not to the long-term survival. Over a long period of time, the creative mindset of an entrepreneur may shift to managerial mindset where they will more likely to follow the familiar paths and that reduce uncertainty (Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al. 2004).
Zhao, Seibert and Lumpkin (2009) had conducted a meta-analytic study in an attempt to find the role of personality in the emergence and success of entrepreneurs with the purpose to extend the understanding of the personality role in the entrepreneurial process. From their literature review, they believed that there is a considerable amount of theory and empirical research that suggest the important of personality as an important determinant of the intention to become an entrepreneur as well as their firm performance (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009).
As a result, conscientiousness, openness to experience, emotional stability, and extraversion has positive relationship to intentions to become an entrepreneur and firm performance. Individuals with high conscientiousness are more attracted to entrepreneurship and are more likely to succeed, and individuals with high openness to experience are more willing to adapt unconventional ideas, values and actions which lead them to do a new way of business and thus build the foundation for the vision for a new venture (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009).
What can be concluded from the literature review is that the use of Five-factor model in the entrepreneurship field is becoming more relevant in studying entrepreneur personality traits. There are several arguments on the model and some of the researchers had to modify their theoretical construct in order to address certain issues. Zhao, Seibert et al, 2009 stated that it is impossible to assign some personality traits into the Five-factor model dimensions such as individual propensity towards risk because of this trait is a "compounded trait reflecting a specific combination of scores on all five dimensions of personality and it is a separate sixth dimension of personality that not captured by the Five-factor model".
Wooten, Timmerman, and Folger (1999) feel that there is some theoretical overlap between vocational interest and personality variables. They were suggesting that testing the influence of personality variables toward predicting a new business start-up will become more conventional if interest is added into the regression equation. Because of this, Strong Campbell Interest Inventory (SCII) and its subscales that are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Entrepreneurial, and Conventional have been added into their research equation (Wooten and Timmerman 1999).
Singh and DeNoble (2003) point out several implications from their research on individuals view towards self-employment based on the Five-factor Model personality traits. They felt that the definition of personality used is too broad and it is necessary to examine the sub-components of each trait. There is also a question on the relationship of robustness on the methods. They found that different groups have different views on self-employment and personality which warrant a theoretical base for the complex interaction between entrepreneurship and personality (Singh and DeNoble 2003).
Ciavarella, Buchholtz et al (2004) agree that entrepreneur's personality is not the only factor that affects the venture survivability. Entrepreneur's decision making and behaviours also need to be consider while accessing firms performance and thus their long-term survivability. They recommend that the entrepreneurship researchers should not ignore the situational factors outside the entrepreneurs' environment when studying their personality.
Even though several arguments have been brought by the above researchers, however they all had agreed with the use of Five-factor Model in the entrepreneurship research as a tool for personality research. Envick and Langford (2000) suggesting that the Five-factor Model is a valuable tool to include in questionnaire regarding career choice because of the model increasing acceptance and robustness which had becomes a preferable method in personality research (Singh and DeNoble 2003). The use of this model also had help to provide an organized framework contains comprehensive personality constructs that are meaningful and parsimonious that help to enlighten the "vast and often confusing variety of personality variables" (Zhao, Seibert et al. 2009).