The importance of entrepreneurs’ traits in explaining start-ups’ innovativeness

  • Simona Leonelli
  • Federica Ceci
  • Francesca Masciarelli
Keywords: personality traits, narcissism, Big Five, locus of control, entrepreneurship, start-ups’ innovation


Purpose of the paper: several studies prove the existence of a relationship between entrepreneurs’ personality traits and firm performances. However, few of them focus on how these personality traits can be correlated with start-ups’ innovativeness. We focus on start-ups because entrepreneurs play a crucial role in managing them: their personality strongly influences business decisions. The main personality traits we consider are narcissism, the Big Five (i.e. extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness to experience), and locus of control. We aim to shed light on how these traits impact on start-ups’ innovativeness and we draw propositions that hypothesize such impact.

Methodology: being a theoretical paper, we carry out a thorough literature review and we propose some propositions.

Findings: we suggest that entrepreneurs positively influence start-ups’ innovativeness whenever they are narcissistic and have a high level of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and internal locus of control. Otherwise, entrepreneurs with a high level of neuroticism and external locus of control negatively influence start-ups’ innovativeness.

Limitations: considering the theoretical nature of the paper, we have not tested our propositions yet; future research will involve testing them in an empirical business context.

Implications: this paper makes significant contributions to two different literatures: entrepreneurship literature and innovation literature.

Originality of the paper: this paper tries to fill a gap in the literature by analysing the relationship between start-ups’ innovation and entrepreneurs’ traits.


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