Entrepreneurial traits and innovation: Evidence from Chile

Jocelyn Olivari Narea, UNU-MERIT

The main goal of this thesis is to broaden the understanding of the intriguing and elusive figure of the innovating entrepreneur, one particular character among the heterogeneous population of entrepreneurs who has the potential to generate a larger economic impact through the ventures he creates.

After an introduction, the second chapter analyses the context, from a systemic and evolving perspective, in which innovative entrepreneurship occurs in Chile. A review of the evolution of the national innovation system in the last 25 years and the analysis of two entrepreneurship indexes, allow assessing the current status of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chile. The results show that the system of entrepreneurship has evolved into a more mature stage in the last ten years, in which the majority of the enabling components are present. Nonetheless, there is plenty of room for improvement. Public policies, which have mostly relied on financial instruments, should ensure that all components of the system are performing well.

Relying on quantitative and qualitative methods, the thesis provides empirical evidence on the sources of entrepreneurial heterogeneity, suggesting that the variety of ventures we observe in Chile is partly explained by the heterogeneous traits of entrepreneurs. This implies that any attempt to understand the emergence of innovative startups should begin by understanding the person behind the business. Furthermore, the findings show that both observable and unobservable characteristics are important to understand the emergence of innovative ventures in Chile. In particular, the results show that the interplay between motivation and educational attainment of the entrepreneur explains the extent to which the business innovates. Particularly, intrinsically motivated entrepreneurs that are highly educated are more prone to run innovative businesses.

This thesis also revealed that social capital determined the emergence of innovative startups by providing access to resources that the entrepreneur lacked. The results show that entrepreneurs with high quality social connections were mostly those that attended elite schools and top universities, which suggests that entrepreneurs that come from a higher socioeconomic status are in a better position to successfully launch and grow an innovative startup. This result has important policy implications given that access to quality education and social capital is unevenly distributed in the Chilean society.

Venue: room 1.169, Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht

Date: 19 April 2016

Time: 16:00 - 17:30  CEST