Can Becoming an Entrepreneur Change Your Personality? A Three-Wave Longitudinal Investigation

Office of Alumni and External Relations    2021-04-29

Can Becoming an Entrepreneur Change Your Personality? A Three-Wave Longitudinal Investigation

Guest: Jie Feng, Assistant Professor, University of Iowa

Host: Ouyang can, Assistant Professor, Antai

Time: Friday, May 7th, 2021,  10:00-11:30

Venue: Zoom (for conference number and password, pleas send email to by 12:00, Apr 30th)


Micro entrepreneurship research has predominantly adopted the dispositional perspective in understanding the personality traits that distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs, assuming that personality drives individuals to become entrepreneurs. However, the burgeoning literature on personality psychology has documented that personality traits, although relatively stable, are able to develop throughout one’s whole adulthood especially when individuals transition into novel work roles. In this paper, we adopt a role-based perspective and a quasi-experimental design to examine personality development of a group of individuals that transitioned from employees to entrepreneurial roles in a three-wave longitudinal study across approximately twenty years. We compare their personality development with an equivalent group of non-entrepreneurs (matched via propensity score matching) who remained as employees over time. We theorize that transitioning into entrepreneurship roles from employees may decrease agreeableness and increase neuroticism and conscientiousness. We find support for the hypothesized changes on agreeableness and neuroticism. This study advances the causal interpretation of the relationship between personality traits and entrepreneurship status and offers practical implications for employees, entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurship training.   


Jie (Jasmine) Feng received her Ph.D. from the Department of Management and Human Resources at the Wisconsin School of Business. Her primary research interests include strategic human resource management (SHRM), employee turnover and interfaces between HR and entrepreneurship. Feng’s research interests integrate multiple levels of analysis and longitudinal designs to unveil the macro-level impact of HR practices on the micro-level employee attitudes/performance/turnover behaviors in organizations (including entrepreneurial firms).

Feng’s research has appeared in the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology and the Asian Pacific Journal of Management. Her research has been cited in several media outlets including Harvard Business Review, The Daily Stat, Inc., NBC News, and Feng has teaching experience in HR areas and received a Distinguished Teaching Award from the Wisconsin School of Business.

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