Conventional wisdom about entrepreneurs tends to focus on their mental make-up. They are risk-seekers. They are creative. They are daring. They are ambitious. They are not afraid to make mistakes or to fail. Perhaps we should take a step back and question this conventional wisdom.. Laura Huang and Peter Cappelli of Wharton have a terrific article in the Wall Street Journal today that challenges these prevailing view about entrepreneurs. They write, "There’s only one problem with the conventional wisdom: There is no direct evidence to support it and some solid research to suggest it isn’t true." I suggest reading their article for more details about their review of the academic literature.
Why has this conventional wisdom dominated our thinking about entrepreneurs for so long? Why do we believe that entrepreneurs have a different make-up than the rest of us? Huang and Cappelli explain that the fundamental attribution error plays a key role:
"Why are we so inclined to believe that entrepreneurs are different and better people than the average? The answer is something known in social psychology as the fundamental attribution error: We tend to assume that behaviors are caused by someone’s disposition, even when circumstances are the real factor, such as assuming that the driver of the speeding car must be an irresponsible person rather than thinking he might be going to an emergency."