Why are you an entrepreneur? Maybe its in your genes

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Tue, 06/06/2006 - 11:40.

 The following story with its links ran in CASE Daily (Case's online newpaper) today. Do feel like you have entrepreneurial genes? I think I do! Please post your thoughts
"Do genes influence who will be entrepreneurs?"

ABC News (Reuters), June 5, 2006

Forget family influence and upbringing. When it comes to being an entrepreneur, genes seem to play an important role, scientists said on Monday... By comparing self-employment in 609 pairs of identical twins, who share all the same genes, and 657 pairs of non-identical twins Spector and scientists at Imperial College, London and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland analyzed the impact of genetics and environment on entrepreneurs.

Also ran in the Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/05/AR2006060500558.html
Reuters at http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyID=2006-06-

Nice to see Case at the forefront of entrepreneurship

Very cool posting and research by Case - I'd love to see a presentation on this here in NEO... do you know anyone at Case who may help arrange that?

Re: Why are you an entrepreneur? Maybe its in your genes

Hi Evelyn,

Thanks for sharing this information.



 Most immigrants who are entrepreneurs would say they are entrepreneurs because there was no other alternative.  A lot of minority businesses would say they entrepreneurs because of being 'last in first out' when it comes to job layoffs.  A recent national study showed that African American entrepreneurship is on the rise.  I wonder if this has a connection to African Americans who have been laid off work and those who have reached the cement ceiling.





But what is an entrepreneur?

I thought about my family, related to this analysis, as I'm a lifelong entrepreneur. My father's family developed a watch and clock business in Switzerland. My grandfather and other relatives came to Toldeo, Ohio,, and started a jewely company there. My father is a physician who chose to set up and run his own practice rather than joining a group. It seems that side of the family is entrepreneurial. On the other hand, my mom's side is mostly from Scottland, and I don't think anyone on that side has done anything particularly entrepreneurial, nor do they seem to have that instinct... gene? They came to America with the tide and became mostly teachers or lifers at companies. In my generation, we have a bit of both. So perhaps there is something in this. But what is an entrepreneur. An artist? A writer? A small business person in general? Are they created out of need or driven out of passion? Are the two situations the same. I see the entrepreneurial world at the height of human creativity, realized in action, valued by others. The creativity may be expressed in what is done and/or how? I'll track down this Case reseach and see what assumptons they used, and if the sample was large enough to consider ethnic background, and I'll see if we can get the researchers to share some insight directly. But, to me, such concepts as an entrepreneur gene are frightening, especially coupled with human cloning, now moving forward at Harvard and Columbia in the USA and all over the world. How long before you can order one entrepreneur for delivery next March 8th? Very frightening, science has become.

There are other incentives besides genes ...

I think the factors you mention are ones that people think of as the traditional inspiration for entrepreneurship -- and the gene factor come as something of a surprise. It would be interesting to look at a study that considered genes as well as economic factors -- unenployment rates, racism, other forms of discrimination. Are people as like to be entrepreneurs in an economy where there is diversity and plenty of job opportunies?

Let's bring Case professors' insight into the community

Now that the Eastwood is on board we hope Case is prepared to move forward in exciting new ways. I'd love to see a better physical and virtual community around Case, which could start with some cool technology initiatives, including a collaborative portal featuring local insight - and a plan to recreate the knowledge sharing made possible with the Center for Regional Economic Issues (REI), which Ed Morrison so successfully integrated into the regional economic development visioning before destroyed by less visionary regional leaders, whoever was at fault. While there is no indication Case will be any more collaborative with the "Open Source Economic Development" world now than in recent years, the selection of MRN for the Triangle and Beach properties offers reason for hope. Let's find other reasons.

What can we do now to better integrate Case into the real world? I propose bringing ideas from my alma mater Tulane, where the school in helping rebuild itself and their entire region after Katrina and demonstrating social responsibility with true genius (which they tapped from all over the world, rather than inbred within. Who else has ideas... especially as Case wants to be at the center of a livable community, or so they say.

The first step may be at the grass roots, with Case professors - can we organize a series of roundtables and book club for that purpose - that way, we will learn the best of what Case learns, making the people of the community more insightful, and Case professors with be better integrated into the community in the process.

The topic of this posting, on the genetic role in entrepreneurship, seems a great place to start bringing Case out of its inertia - let's to a roundtable on this at CAAO, or in East Cleveland. I'll take a lead in reaching out on this... are others interested?

Who wants to bring the professor who wrote about lawns to speak at an excellence roundtable at the Shaker Lakes Nature Center, or Landerhaven, or Crocker Park, bringing environmental awareness directly where it seems to be most needed... the massive phosphate covered lawns at power bases of the region? Post here if interested... we'll get the ball rolling.


New Census Studies on Self-Employment

I found this surfing the web this morning.


It’s been conventional wisdom that many entrepreneurs had parents who were self-employed. According to some estimates, more than half of all business owners had a self-employed family member prior to starting their business. While this data is compelling, what’s really driving intergenerational business ownership patterns? Is it nature or nurture? In other words, are some entrepreneurial traits inherited across generations or do entrepreneurs model the behavior displayed by their parents? Two new papers sponsored by the Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies shed some light on these issues. In this research, Robert Fairlie and Alicia Robb examine how a family business background affects small business outcomes. The research offers a number of interesting insights, but one main conclusion stands out. New business owners gain invaluable experience from working in a family member’s small business, not from simply knowing another entrepreneur. This work experience is critical in providing future entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in business ownership. The authors also note that few public sector programs help aspiring entrepreneurs obtain this kind of apprenticeship experience. Many programs do provide technical assistance and financial support, but they do not provide real life experiences that seem to be important for the acquisition of critical entrepreneurial skills. 


Access the June 2005 US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Discussion Paper (CES 05-07)