Ginsberg & Buchholtz - Styles Of Entrepreneurs

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Ari Ginsberg and Ann Buchholtz presented a study in the late 1980’s that reviewed 10 earlier studies of the personality characteristics and traits of entrepreneurs, looking for common factors (Ginsberg & Buchholtz, 1989[1]). In their review, they found that entrepreneurs were typically characterized by their behaviors more than by their personalities. People were considered entrepreneurs when they were founders of a distinct new venture who then took on the roles of owner and manager of the resulting business.

Ginsberg and Buchholtz used these behavioral qualities to propose a two-dimensional framework for defining entrepreneurial styles. The first dimension combined risk-taking propensity with decision-making autonomy (independence), and the second one singled out innovation propensity (creativity). Crossing these dimensions and differentiating high and low values for each one resulted in the following four-style categorization:

P – Owner Managers (High Independence, Low Innovation)
A – Corporate Manager (Low Independence, Low Innovation)
E – Independent Entrepreneur (High Independence, High Innovation)
I – Corporate Entrepreneur (Low Independence, High Innovation)

Ann Buchholtz has participated in some more recent research assessing entrepreneurial success with Big Five personality inventories (Ciavarella et al., 2004[2]). The researchers found that openness to experience, a Big Five quality which most people might attribute to entrepreneurs, was actually negatively related to long-term new venture survival. Some of the qualities that make an entrepreneur interested in new projects can divert them from carrying plans through. Conscientious focus and the ability to ignore opportunities are the key to long-term new venture survival, once those new ventures have been launched. This finding corresponds to the shift from courtship/conceptualization to infancy in the Adizes organizational lifecycle and other lifecycle models. The power of E to introduce change and build excitement helps drive the launch of a new venture, but P and the A make it viable, and P takes the lead during the childhood of the organization.

1. Ginsberg, A., & Buchholtz, A. (1989). “Are Entrepreneurs a breed apart? A look at the evidence.” Journal of General Management, 15, 32-40.
2. Ciavarella, M. A., Buchholtz, A. K., Riordan, C. M., Gatewood, R. D., & Stokes, G. S. (2004). “The Big Five and venture survival: Is there a linkage?” Journal of Business Venturing, 19(4), 465-483.
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