Subjects of the questionnaire:

Entrepreneurs who set up companies after 1960
Corporate employees: unspecified

Period of questionnaire collection:

June 20 - July 31, 1995

Questionnaires sent to:
68 companies recommended by Tokyo Small Enterprise Investment Co.
128 companies recommended by Japan Small Business Research Institute
114 companies recommended by Corporate Venture Study Group
Others recommended by acquaintances
Corporate employees:
122 who attended the Entrepreneur Course organized by Waseda University System Science Institute
148 employees of Mitsui & Co., Nissho Iwai and their affiliates
64 Nippon Life Insurance Co. employees
Others recommended by acquaintances throughout Japan

Questionnaire subjects

Subjects Entrepreneurs Corporate employees
No. of questionnaires distributed 408 389
No. collected(collection rate) 234(57.4%) (*1) 284(73.0%) (*2)
No. of effective responses(rate) 221(54.2%) 249(64.0%)
Mean age (*3) 50.44 years 36.14 years
Gender ratio(male/female) 88/12 69/31
No. of employees (*4) 50.4 5396.0
% of college graduates 60.5% 64.2%
Business category

    Manufacturing: 47.2%
    Service: 22.0%

    Service: 71.1% (*5)
    Manufacturing: 19.2%
  1. Of the entrepreneurs, 13 were sons of the founders and were not considered.
  2. Of the respondents who attended Waseda’s entrepreneur course, 35 were college students and were not considered.
  3. Since the number of entrepreneur subjects is limited, questionnaires were distributed without regard to whether or not they had school age children. For corporate employees, the questionnaires were distributed primarily to parents who had school age children, in line with the objective of the survey. This accounts for the difference in mean age.
  4. Difference due, in large part, to the number of corporate employees working in large corporation.
  5. Included employees in affiliates of trading companies.

The mean age of entrepreneurs at initial start-up is 33.74 years, while the age at the start-up of their present companies is 36.49 years. Since the mean age of the sample entrepreneur group is slightly over 50 years, our survey targeted entrepreneurs who had fifteen or more years of experience. Moreover, the fact that the start-up age during the 1970s was significantly lower than now explains why the start-up age of this questionnaire sample group is younger than in recent years (i.e., 40 years old in 1994).


Two versions of the questionnaire were used, one for entrepreneurs and the other for corporate employees.

The questions focused on five main topics:

  1. Background such as age
  2. Family environment during elementary and secondary school age
  3. Personal experiences during elementary and secondary school age
  4. Future changes in Japanese society
  5. Entrepreneurship

Survey Method

To discover childhood experiential differences between entrepreneurs and corporate employees, a discriminant analysis was used. As the variable that defines the groups, we chose "occupation" (entrepreneurs and corporate employees) and used the following as possible predictor variables to measure three factors: (1) "father's occupation" and "mother's occupation" as role models played by their parents; (2) "entrepreneurial experience" (the experience of having entrepreneurial ideas), "family help experience" (experience of helping the family and in family chores), and "neighborhood help experience," (experience of helping in the neighborhood) as their pseudo-entrepreneurial experiences; and (3) "overseas experience," "family tragedies," "serious illness or injury," and "award experience" (experience of being awarded a prize) as their extraordinary personal experiences.

Each of these was coded and analyzed. Discriminant analysis was also carried out for corporate employees, using the same possible predictor variables to identify the difference between those who aspire to become ntrepreneurs and those who do not.

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Last Updated 3/10/97 by Cheryl Ann Lopez

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