Un reciente working paper publicado en Doing Business, un proyecto del Banco Mundial, analiza empíricamente las condiciones sociales e intelectuales que se asocian con los emprendedores y con su éxito. Simeon Djankov, Yingyi Qian, Gérard Roland y Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, en What makes an entrepreneur? (pdf; vía Marginal Revolution) utilizaron una encuesta a “emprendedores” y “no emprendedores” brasileños para contrastar una hipótesis similar a la que se ha presentado en inumerables ocasiones en los debates evolutivos y sociales, la confrontación nature vs. nurture, que se referiere a la importancia relativa de las cualidades innatas respecto a las adquiridas.
Para estos autores que el contexto social y familar es clave para que alguien se haga emprendedor, pero que son las condiciones individuales de los emprendedores las que explicarían su éxito. Aunque los resultados se refieren a algunas ciudades brasileñas, parece claro que representan un patrón general que podría extenderse a otros países. Este es el resumen de sus principales conclusiones:
We test two competing hypotheses on what makes an entrepreneur: nature – attitude towards risk, I.Q., and self-confidence; or nurture – family background and social networks. The results are based on data from a new survey on entrepreneurship in Brazil, of 400 entrepreneurs and 540 non-entrepreneurs of the same age, gender, education and location in 7 Brazilian cities. We find that family characteristics have the strongest influence on becoming an entrepreneur. In contrast, success as an entrepreneur is primarily determined by the individual’s smartness and higher education in the family. Entrepreneurs are not more self-confident than non-entrepreneurs; and overconfidence is bad for business success.
Su metodología se basa en encuestas y está diseñada para evitar los sesgos, factores de confusión, que podrían estar asociados con su hipótesis. Obviamente, su definición de emprendedor y “no emprendedor” fue muy simple, pero efectiva para sus objetivos:
We surveyed a random sample of about 400 entrepreneurs … We defined entrepreneur as an owner-manager of a business with six or more employees because we wanted to make sure that individuals whom we call entrepreneurs are not simply self-employed…
After completing the surveys of entrepreneurs, we conducted a survey of 540 non-entrepreneurs in the same cities … using a near-identical survey. We defined non-entrepreneurs as individuals who are not working for their own business.
Dentro de las características familiares y sociales que diferencian a los emprendedores nos encontramos con la cultura emprendedora y no tanto con el nivel educativo del entorno:
The parents of entrepreneurs are not more highly educated than those of non entrepreneurs but the mothers of failed entrepreneurs were less highly educated than the mothers of entrepreneurs… The parents of entrepreneurs were, however, less likely to be workers. The difference is stark. In the entrepreneur sample 54% of fathers and 27% of mothers were directors or senior managers compared respectively to 18% and 3% for non entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs come more often from wealthier families than non-entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are much more likely to have friends and family who also run their own businesses. In Brazil, 81% of entrepreneurs have relatives who are businessmen, compared to 55 % among non entrepreneurs. … The same question about university friends yielded a positive answer with 78% of entrepreneurs compared to 33% for non entrepreneurs.
Respecto a las actitudes y aptitudes personales, la tipología de los emprendedores se aparta en ciertos aspectos de la que se tiende asumir. Por ejemplo, presentan actitudes ante el riesgo similares (o inlcuso más conservadoras) que los “no emprendedores”. Por el contrario si presentan capacidades cognitivas que les hacen más confiados en sus posibilidades, y entre las motivaciones para lanzar nuevos proyectos la recompensa económica tiene una relevancia menor que en el resto de la población (dicho en pocas palabras, es más difícil que dejen de trabajar aunque se hagan ricos con su empresa):
Interestingly, Brazilian entrepreneurs do not exhibit more risk-loving attitudes than non entrepreneurs. They are, for example, less likely than non entrepreneurs to take risky gambles on their income. However, entrepreneurs are somewhat more ready to take a risky gamble compared to failed entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs appear also more patient than non entrepreneurs. When asked what minimum return they would require one month later after having invested $100 today, we found that the annual computed average discount rate was lower among entrepreneurs than among non entrepreneurs (18% against 24%)…
We performed a test of cognitive ability based on short term recall and found that entrepreneurs did significantly better than non entrepreneurs. We used the cognitive test to measure overconfidence and under-confidence of respondents. We asked respondents to rate themselves on the cognitive score. Respondents who stated that their answers were above average but were in reality below average were rated as overconfident whereas those who rated themselves as below average but were in reality above average were rates as under-confident. Looking at the conditional means we did not find here any significant differences between entrepreneurs and non entrepreneurs.
We next asked in our survey whether people would decide to retire if they received a windfall income equal to 100 times GDP per capita and 500 times GDP per capita… Entrepreneurs were significantly less ready to retire if they received a windfall income of 100 times GDP per capita (11% compared to 35% for non entrepreneurs). However, for 500 times GDP per capita there was no significant difference between the remaining entrepreneurs and non entrepreneurs (we tried even-larger differences and found the same result). Among the reasons for not being willing to retire, no significant difference was observed between entrepreneurs and non entrepreneurs. The main reason was the love of one’s job.