Personal characteristics and
entrepreneurs in Canadian
David Di Zhang
Department of Management and Marketing, Edwards School of Business,
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, and
Department of Marketing, Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba,
Purpose – Extant theories suggest that entrepreneurs’ personal characteristics have substantial
impacts on their ﬁrm’s performance. From a resource-based view, the paper considers an
entrepreneur’s personal characteristics to be a unique resource endowment to their ﬁrm. The paper
seeks to discuss these issues.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected through a national survey of owners and
senior managers of small- to medium-sized Canadian manufacturing companies. Mediation
relationships were tested with hierarchical regression analyses.
Findings – Consistent with the authors’ hypotheses, it is found that entrepreneurs’ personal
characteristics, such as need for achievement, need for cognition, and internal locus of control, have
positive inﬂuences on ﬁrm performance. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that their strategic orientations
mediated these inﬂuences. The data indicate that entrepreneurs with higher levels of internal locus of
control are more likely to adopt an entrepreneurial orientation than a market orientation.
Originality/value – This paper helps to better understand why entrepreneurs make different
strategic decisions under seemingly similar competitive environments. The ﬁndings suggest that
entrepreneurs do not simply react mechanically to external environmental changes. Instead, how they
seek and interpret information and formulate organizational strategies is partially inﬂuenced by their
personal characteristics. Entrepreneurs develop their own ways of utilizing the human capital that
they bring to their ﬁrms.
Keywords Personality, Entrepreneurs, Manufacturing systems, Canada
Paper type Research paper
The success of small businesses heavily depends on the human capital of their
owner-managers (Jones et al., 2007). When an entrepreneur starts a business, they
bring a unique set of human capital to their business as a part of resource endowment
to the ﬁrm, including, but not limited to, their skills, experience, and personality. As
such, the business becomes an extension of the entrepreneur as an individual
(Hambrick and Mason, 1984).
The resource-based view of the ﬁrm (RBV) posits that each organization is endowed
with a ﬁnite amount of resources. Some of these resources are rare, valuable, and
difﬁcult for competitors to copy, and therefore provide the ﬁrm with opportunities to
gain sustainable competitive advantages (Peteraf, 1993; Barney, 1991; Hunt and
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
International Journal of
Entrepreneurial Behaviour &
Vol. 17 No. 1, 2011
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited