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Does Geography Predict Entrepreneurship?

Does Geography Predict Entrepreneurship? New research suggests business characteristics that promote innovation are geographically clustered, with state and/or country values stimulating or suppressing an entrepreneurial personality.

Psychologists also discovered founders of successful companies tend to exhibit personality traits that make them more socially engaging, creative and able to handle stress than nonentrepreneurs.

Researchers from the University of Jena in Germany and The University of Texas at Austin mapped the entrepreneurial personality structures in the United States, Great Britain and Germany.

They identified regions where a feeling of entrepreneurial spirit is “most at home.”

The research will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Investigators analyzed the personalities of more than 500,000 U.S. citizens, in addition to approximately 20,000 German and 15,000 British citizens.

The psychologists then correlated their findings with economic data derived from various regions within each country.

In the U.S., entrepreneurial spirit — associated with personality characteristics such as being socially engaging, responsible, creative, able to handle stress, and at times uncompromising — was high in western states such as Colorado and Utah, and low in Rust Belt states such as Michigan and in Deep South states such as Mississippi.

Researchers found substantial correlations between the geographic distribution of the entrepreneurial personality structure and the regional distribution of actual entrepreneurial activity, such as the number of startup businesses in a region.

The psychologists found similar results in Germany and Great Britain.

Although there are no firm conclusions regarding the causes of these regional differences, one possible explanation might be found in the socialization processes within the regions, where prevalent “entrepreneurial values” are conveyed through parenting or social institutions.

“The Rust Belt has a long tradition in rule-driven mass production,” Gosling said. “It is therefore possible that this region supported non-entrepreneurial values more strongly, which in turn might have been reflected in a less marked entrepreneurial personality structure.”

The researchers conclude that the close connection between the distribution of the entrepreneurial personality structure and the economic clout of respective regions must be considered in future political and economic decisions.

Source: The University of Texas at Austin

Map photo by shutterstock.

Does Geography Predict Entrepreneurship?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Does Geography Predict Entrepreneurship?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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