Media reports about alleged anti-social and delinquent behavior of entrepreneurs are no rarity. Such reports direct the attention towards possibly ’hidden’ anti-social tendencies in entrepreneurial types.
Is it true then, that entrepreneurs are a particularly self-serving species with their own moral ideas and ethical principles? Does he really exist, the type of the entrepreneurial ‘homo oeconomicus’ who first of all is interested in his own benefit and profit and who abandons ethical and social principles? And if so: what makes him so?
Together with Swedish colleagues of the University of Stockholm, psychologists of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU) tried to answer these questions. In their search for anti-social tendencies in the biographies of business founders, the German-Swedish team of researchers came to surprising conclusions.
Data from 1000 Children over 40 Years
The psychologists used a Swedish longitudinal study for their research. In the study ‘Individual Development and Adaptation‘ they registered pupils of a sixth form of a singular age group of a medium seized Swedish town – about 1000 children – and accompanied them over a 40-year time period. ”We analyzed this data regarding the entrepreneurship the participants were showing later on in their professional careers. We wanted to know what kind of social behavior they showed,” Dr. Martin Obschonka from the Center for Applied Developmental Science at the University of Jena says. Therefore the scientists analyzed extensive data regarding rule-breaking behavior and attitudes of the participants.
They followed these anti-social tendencies in adolescence as well as in the adulthood of the participants. At the same time, a large number of archive data of criminal offenses registered and sanctioned by the police were evaluated.
The psychologists’ research results give a multi-faceted picture, as the latest study by the scientists shows (DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2013.06.007).
Anti-social Tendencies proved in Entrepreneurs’ Biographies
On the one hand they were indeed able to establish systematic anti-social tendencies in the entrepreneurs’ biographies. In comparison to others, who didn’t found their own business, entrepreneurs showed astonishing characterristics. The future business founders had a distinctly higher tendency to rule-breaking behavior at school, at home dealing with their parents, and in their free time. Examples were: more frequent disregard of parental orders, more frequent cheating at school, playing truant, a more regular drug consumption or the ‘pinching’ of goods in shops. This result appeared most notably in the biographies of the male participants of the study.
“On the other hand the study also shows a different side of the entrepreneurial types,” according to Dr. Obschonka. Because when they were grown-ups there were no more differences between the non-entrepreneurial types regarding the anti-social tendencies. Moreover, the data pointed to the fact that the early anti-social tendencies could be narrowed down to ‘smaller misdemeanors‘. That is to say that the analyses of the crime data of the police show that entrepreneurial types are not significantly different from other people when it comes to officially punished behavior – neither in their adolescence nor in their adulthood. “On the basis of the data, it can be argued that on average entrepreneurs don’t have more criminal careers than the non-founders,” Dr. Obschonka explains. “Likewise there was no difference to be found regarding the anti-social attitudes.”
Entrepreneurs realize Innovations and Visions
However, the urge towards transgressive behavior was clearly present in adolescence. “But this doesn’t lead to the conclusion, that in adulthood the rules have to be broken serially and that anti-social behavior will be de rigueur,” Dr. Obschonka says. Thus the located behavior of entrepreneurs doesn’t chime in with the established prejudices: “It is often claimed that their personality type is rather anti-social and that they are only self-interested,” the Jena psychologist describes the clichés. It is decisive for entrepreneurs to realize innovations and visions.
In people who are able to take those unusual and risky routes, a proximity to non-conformism can often be found. This courage to explore the unusual and the novel could have its roots in adolescent rule-breaking behavior. “The data suggest that a rebellious adolescent behavior against socially accepted standards and an early questioning of boundaries doesn’t necessarily lead to criminal and anti-social careers. It can rather be the basis for a productive and socially acceptable entrepreneurship,” says Dr. Obschonka. A tendency towards risk-taking which can already become apparent in adolescence plays an important role in the future development.Original Publication:
Online before going into print under: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2013.06.007.Contact:
Stefanie Bühlchen | idw
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences