Clearly these hypotheses call for a longitudinal or predictive design in which personality tests are administered at an early point, and then follow-up measures are obtained to establish the extent of firm success (growth) at some later point.


The sample studied consisted of 100 established entrepreneurs in the Buffalo, New York area who participated in an entrepreneurship development program sponsored by the State University of New York at Buffalo. The program involved presentations on their firms by the entrepreneurs themselves, presentations by various speakers including faculty members, psychological assessments utilizing tests and feedback sessions, and various social networking activities. It extended through a single academic year. The sample was accumulated over a 7-year period; the numbers each year were 10, 9, 14, 14, 16, 19, 18—to the total of 100.

The mean age was 41.9 years (SD=9.4) with a range from 25 to 75; 9 percent were in their 20s and 4 percent over 60. These figures were obtained as each cohort entered the program.

The mean years of education was 16—a college graduate (SD=1.9); 4 percent had not attended college and 33 percent had some graduate study, including several with Ph.D.s. Most had completed their formal education before entering the program.

The firms of these entrepreneurs extended over a wide range including both service and manufacturing, although there were more of the former than the latter. In terms of origin, 49 percent were start-ups—21 percent without a partner and 21 percent with one or more partners. The remaining 7 percent were independent start-ups, but the firms are best described as sales or professional practices—small in scope and without a primary growth objective. In another 23 percent of the cases the entrepreneur was a member of a family business, and had either taken over leadership or was slated to do so. The entrepreneur had assumed ownership of the firm by purchasing it in 12 percent of the instances. The remaining 16 percent were involved in some type of corporate venturing or entrepreneurship—7 percent heading up a corporate venture, and 9 percent serving in a turnaround capacity to a corporate entity.

At the time these entrepreneurs entered the program their firms had an average of 58.3 employees (SD=93.3). The range was from 1 to 600, with 9 percent having 5 employees or less and 6 percent having 200 or more. The mean annual sales volume for the previous year was $4.4 million (SD=$6.2 million) and the range 0 to $37 million; 17 percent of the firms were at under half a million dollars and 12 percent at $10 million or more. Profits on sales for the preceding year ranged from 0 to 27 percent, with the mean at 7 percent; 48 percent of the firms were under 5 percent, and only 15 percent above the 15 percent figure.

This sample was used in two previously reported investigations (Miner, 1991; Miner and Stites-Doe, 1994). However, in both instances the number of cases that had accumulated was far short of the ultimate 100.

Tests and Questionnaire Measures

The various psychological tests and questionnaires were administered in the early Fall of each year to the program participants available at that time. Several of these measures were selected not merely because of their relevance for entrepreneurship, but because they are short, easily scored, and thus useful for teaching people to understand a characteristic. Thus, they were used because of pedagogical as well as assessment considerations. These are:

Lynn Achievement Motivation Questionnaire (Lynn, 1969; Hines, 1973)
Individual Behavior Activity Profile—abbreviated (Matteson & Ivancevich, 1982a, 1982b)
Rose Tension Discharge Rate Scale (Rose, Jenkins & Hurst, 1978; Matteson & Ivancevich, 1983)
Matteson and Ivancevich Internal-External Scale (Matteson & Ivancevich, 1982a)
Shure and Meeker Risk Avoidance Scale (Shure & Meeker, 1967; Harnett & Cummings, 1980)

The remaining scales included in the battery and scored to predict entrepreneurial success were:

Miner Sentence Completion Scale—Form T (Miner, 1986, 1993)
Ghiselli Self-Description Inventory (Ghiselli, 1971)
Miner Sentence Completion Scale—Form P (Miner, 1981, 1993)
Levenson Internal-External Instrument (Levenson, 1972, 1974)
Oliver Organization Description Questionniare—completed for an ideal work situation (Oliver, 1981, 1982; Miner, 1993)
Problem-Solving Questionnaire (Slocum & Hellriegel, 1983)
Decision Style Inventory (Rowe & Mason, 1987)
Elizur Work Values Questionnaire (Elizur, 1984; Meindl, Hunt & Lee, 1989)
Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) Scale (Fiedler & Chemers, 1984)
Company Survey-Ranking of Competitive Strategies (Smith, 1967; Miner, Smith & Bracker, 1992b)
Miner Sentence Completion Scale—Form H (Miner, 1964, 1993)
Vocabulary Test G-T (Thorndike & Gallup, 1944; Miner, 1973)

Some of these instruments yield only one score; some yield a number. Scores were assigned to clusters, so as to combine to measure each of the four key personality patterns, based on conceptual considerations; no mathematical procedure, such as factor analysis, was involved. In each instances the score distribution was broken into three, not necessarily equal, parts. Score levels expected to be most strongly associated with a pattern were set equal to 2, score levels expected to be somewhat less indicative of the pattern were set equal to 1, and score levels not expected to contribute to the pattern at all were given a 0. Thus, each component of a cluster of test scores had values assigned of 2, 1, or 0. The sum or these values across all pattern components was the cluster or pattern score.

For the personal achiever cluster or pattern the scoring process was as follows:

1. Lynn (a score of 8=2, of 6 or 7=1, and of 0 to 5=0)
2. Individual Behavior Activity (scores of 60 to 75=2, of 45 to 59=1, and of 0 to 44=0)
3. Rose (Scores of 31 to 42=2, of 25 to 30=1, and of 6 to 24=0)
4. Matteson and Ivancevich (scores of 0 to 2=2, of 3 or 4=1, and of 5 to 8=0)
5. Miner—Form T: Self Achievement (scores of +4 to +8=2, of +2 or +3=1, and of -8 to +1=0)
6. Miner—Form T: Feedback of Results (scores of +2 to +8=2, of 0 or +1=1, and of -8 to -1=0)
7. Miner—Form T: Planning for the Future (scores of +3 to +8=2, of +1 or +2=1, and of -8 to 0=0)
8. Ghiselli: Initiative (scores of 41 to 47=2, of 38 to 40=1, and of 0 to 37=0)
9. Miner—Form P: Acquiring Knowledge (scores of +4 to +8=2, of +2 or +3=1, and of -8 to +1=0)
10. Miner—Form P: Professional Commitment (scores of +4 to +8=2, of +2 or +3=1, and of -8 to +1=0)
11. Levenson: I (Internal) Scale (scores of 43 to 48=2, of 40 to 42=1, and of 8 to 39=0)
12. Levenson: P (Powerful Others) Scale (scores of 8 to 13=2, or 14 to 17=1, and of 18 to 48=0)
13. Levenson: C (Chance) Scale (scores of 8 to 12=2, of 13 to 15=1, and of 16 to 48=0)
14. Oliver: T Score—ideal (scores of 10 to 15=2, of 5 to 9=1, and of 0 to 4=0)
15. Oliver: G Score—ideal (scores of 0 or 1=2, of 2 to 4=1, and of 5 to 15=0)

The personal achiever score can range from 0 to 30. The actual mean is 14.1 with a range from to 5 to 24 (SD=4.2). Scores of 17 or above indicate a personal achiever.

For the empathic supersalesperson cluster or pattern the scoring process was as follows:

1. Miner—Form P: Providing Help (scores of +5 to +8=2, of +4=1, and of -8 to +3=0)
2. Problem Solving: Feeling (scores of 6 to 8=2, of 4 or 5=1, and of 0 to 3=0)
3. Decision Style: Behavioral (scores of 70 to 160=2, of 62 to 69=1, and of 20 to 61=0)
4. Elizur: Social items--#5, 7, 8, 18, and 20 of the 24-item measure (scores of 5 to 7=2, of 8 or 9=1, and of 10 to 30=0)
5. LPC Scale (scores of 73 to 144=2, of 65 to 72=1, and of 18 to 64=0)
6. Company Survey (sales force rankings of 1 to 3=2, of 4 to 6=1, and of 7 or lower=0)

The empathic supersalesperson score can range from 0 to 12. The actual mean is 4.2 with a range of 0 to 11 (SD=2.5). Scores of 6 or above indicate an empathic supersalesperson.

For the real manager cluster or pattern the scoring process was as follows:

1. Ghiselli: Supervisory Ability (scores of 40 to 47=2, of 37 to 39=1, and of 0 to 36=0)
2. Ghiselli: Self Assurance (scores of 36 to 41=2, of 33 to 35=1, and of 0 to 32=0)
3. Ghiselli: Need for Occupational Achievement (scores of 54 to 62=2, of 50 to 53=1, and of 0 to 49=0)
4. Ghiselli: Need for Self-Actualization (scores of 16 to 18=2, of 14 or 15 =1, and of 0 to 13=0)
5. Ghiselli: Need for Job Security (scores of 0 to 6=2, of 7 or 8=1, and of 9 to 19=0)
6. Ghiselli: Decisiveness (scores of 30 to 32=2, of 27 to 29=1, and of 0 to 26=0)
7. Decision Style: Directive (scores of 90 to 160=2, of 82 to 89=1, and of 20 to 81=0)
8. Miner—Form H: Authority Figures (scores of +3 to +5=2, of +2=1, and of -5 to +1=0)
9. Miner—Form H: Competitive Games (scores of +4 or +5=2, of +3=1, and of -5 to +2=0)
10. Miner—Form H: Competitive Situations (scores of +2 to +5=2, of +1=1, and of -5 to 0=0)
11. Miner—Form H: Assertive Role (Masculine Role) (scores of +3 to +5=2, of +2=1, and of -5 to +1=0)
12. Miner—Form H: Imposing Wishes (scores of +3 to +5=2, of +2=1, and of -5 to +1=0)
13. Miner—Form H: Standing Out from Group (scores of +3 to +5=2, of +2=1, and of -5 to +1=0)
14. Miner—Form H: Routine Administrative Functions (scores of +3 to +5=2, of +2=1, and of -5 to +1=0)

The real manager score can range from 0 to 28. The actual mean is 5.9 with a range of 0 to 16 (SD=3.6). Scores of 8 or above indicate a real manager.

For the expert idea generator cluster or pattern the scoring process was as follows:

1. Shure and Meeker (scores of 41 to 51=2, of 37 to 40=1, and of 17 to 36=0)
2. Miner—Form T: Personal Innovation (scores of +5 to +8=2, of +3 or +4=1, and of -8 to +2=0)
3. Miner—Form T: Avoiding Risks (scores of +3 to +8=2, of +1 or +2=1, and of -8 to 0=0)
4. Ghiselli: Intelligence (scores of 52 to 57=2, or 49 to 51=1, and of 0 to 48=0)
5. Problem Solving: Intuition (scores of 7 or 8=2, of 5 or 6=1, and of 0 to 4=0)
6. Decision Style: Conceptual (scores of 95 to 160=2, of 87 to 94=1, and of 20 to 86=0)
7. Company Survey (new product development rankings of 1 to 3=2, of 4 to 6=1, and of 7 or lower=0)
8. Vocabulary G-T (scores of 34 to 40=2, of 29 to 33=1, and of 0 to 28=0)

The expert idea generator score can range from 0 to 16. The actual mean is 4.9 with a range from 0 to 13 (SD=2.6). Scores of 6 or above indicate an expert idea generator.

Based on these test patterns personal achievers may be described as having a need to achieve, a desire for feedback, a desire to plan and set goals, strong personal initiative, a strong personal commitment to their organization, a belief that one person can make a difference, and a belief that work should be guided by personal goals, not those of others.

Empathic supersalespeople are characterized by a capacity to understand and feel with others, a desire to help others, a belief that social processes are very important, a need to have strong positive relationships with others, and a belief that a sales force is crucial to carrying out company strategy.

The test patterns of real managers indicate a desire to be a corporate leader, decisiveness, positive attitudes to authority, a desire to compete, a desire for power, and a desire to stand out from the crowd.

Expert idea generators exhibit a desire to innovate, a love of ideas, a belief that new product development is very important for company strategy, good intelligence, and a desire to avoid taking risks (to compensate for their enthusiasm for ideas).

Two other scores were generated to describe what are called complex entrepreneurs. One was simply the number of key entrepreneurial patterns the individual possessed. Having two or more such patterns defined a person as a complex entrepreneur. A second measure was the sum of the scores for personal achiever, empathic supersalesperson, real manager, and expert idea generator. This composite score can range from 0 to 86. The actual mean is 29.1 with a range from 15 to 47 (SD=6.8). Scores of 33 or above indicate a complex entrepreneur.

The intercorrelations of these scores are given in Table 1. All four pattern scores are free to vary in that none of their tests components are determined by test measures inherent in another pattern score. Nevertheless, the empathic supersalespeople emerge as distinctly different form the other types.

Intercorrelations Of Entrepreneurial Personaltiy Pattern Scores

  Empathic Super- salesperson
Manager Score
Expert Idea
Generator Score
Composite Score
(Complex) Entrepreneur
  Achiver Score -.30** .35** .02 .70**
  Empathic Super-salesperson Score   -.24* -.14 .00
  Real Manager Score     .22* .74**
  Expert Idea Generator Score       .47**


Measures of Success

Success was determined by comparing information obtained when the entrepreneurs presented their firms during the entrepreneurship program with similar information obtained up to the end of the program’s seventh year. Thus success was defined in terms of growth, and the interval involved varied substantially depending on when the entrepreneur entered the program. The follow-up process focused on annual dollar sales, number of employees, and profitability. However, information also was obtained on whether the individual had remained with the same firm, and if not, what new employment was undertaken. Information regarding any firm effects of the economic recession that occurred in the Buffalo area during the latter part of the seven-year period was recorded as well.

The follow-up process utilized a variety of sources. In many cases the entrepreneurs were interviewed at their places of business. There were two rounds of these interviews for the initial two classes of the program. In some cases the entrepreneurs made later presentations regarding their firms to classes at the university and other groups. There were numerous meetings at social events, in the airport, and the like. Sometimes information was provided in the Buffalo newspapers. Telephone interviews were conducted in those few cases where a face-to-face meeting could not be arranged. In one way or another a considerable amount of information of a follow-up nature was obtained.

This information was sufficient to establish the success subsequent to testing of 84 of the 100 entrepreneurs. The remaining 16 people could not be evaluated in this manner for one of two reasons. In roughly a third of these cases the individual completed the tests, but did not make a company presentation, and did not complete the entrepreneurship program. Thus, baseline data were not available. The remaining people were members of the seventh-year class, and the interval between their presentations of their firm and the termination of the study was insufficient to justify a determination of whether growth had occurred.

The follow-up data were used to classify the 84 entrepreneurs into one of six categories.

1. The individual had separated from the original firm at some point during the follow-up period, and no subsequent employment of an entrepreneurial nature had been undertaken. (7 percent)

2. The individual had left the original firm, but subsequently became engaged in another entrepreneurial venture; in all of these instances the individual then continued in an entrepreneurial role. (7 percent)

3. The individual and the original firm remained together, but the firm did not grow and in fact only survived. (12 percent)

4. The individual and the original firm remained together, but although growth occurred at an early point, recession subsequently had a negative impact. (13 percent)

5. The individual and the original firm remained together, but although growth occurred it has been of a slow and steady nature. (31 percent)

6. The individual and the original firm remained together, and growth has been substantial. (30 percent)

Business failure, if it occurs, would be found in the first two categories. However, there have been no more than two or three such instances, and only one bankruptcy failure.

For purposes of analysis, categories 1 (no longer entrepreneuring) and 3 (firm only surviving) were combined under the "Little Evidence of Entrepreneurial Success" designation. Categories 2 (reinvolved in entrepreneurship), 4 (impacted by recession), and 5 (slow growth) were combined to produce the "Some Evidence of Entrepreneurial Success" designation. Category 6 (the clear growth successes) constituted the "Substantial Evidence of Entrepreneurial Success" designation.


Previous Page | Main Menu | Next Page

Return to 1996 Topical Index

1997 Babson College All Rights Reserved
Last Updated 4/27/97 by Germaine Wong

To sign-up for the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies' publication lists,
please register with the
Entrepreneurship WebTeam.