Who Is an Entrepreneur

According to Gartner, “Who Is an Entrepreneur?” Is the Wrong Question’. Drawing on the literature discuss why this might be the case.


The question of ‘who is an entrepreneur?’ has fuelled research for many years, with various research methods and theories in order to identify the entrepreneur and their activities. Gartner believes that the question asked is the wrong one and states that we should be concentrating on what the entrepreneur does and not who the entrepreneur is. In this report we will look at both questions and the theory behind each, being the trait approach and the behavioural concept. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each research method giving detailed arguments concluding to whether Gartner’s proposition hold true.

Yeats put the analogy across of “how can we know the dancer for the dance?” (Yeats, 1959), the same can be applied to entrepreneurship. How do we know the entrepreneur; if we took him out of the environment would he or she act the same. The actions of an entrepreneur has lead to why they act that way and ‘are there certain attributes?’ resulting in the question ‘Who is an Entrepreneur?’ This process is what Gartner believes to be the wrong approach.

Trait approach

This approach is based upon traits and personality characteristics of the entrepreneur. These are constant attributes that do not go away dependent on the environment the entrepreneur is in. There are both strengths and weaknesses to this theory and by weighing them up, there will be a view to whether the trait approach holds true.

The entrepreneur is the basic unit of analysis, concentrating on the individual himself to decipher the makeup of what constitutes an entrepreneurial human being. The trait approach specifies that some people are born as entrepreneurs and that it doesn’t matter about the environment, that is the person them self that holds the key. Nine characteristics are said to be true in entrepreneurs according to David...