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Puerta Gómez, J.R.; Aceituno-Aceituno, P.; Burgos García, C.; González-Ortiz-De-Zárate, A. Higher Education in Shaping Essential Personality Traits. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 16 April 2024).
Puerta Gómez JR, Aceituno-Aceituno P, Burgos García C, González-Ortiz-De-Zárate A. Higher Education in Shaping Essential Personality Traits. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 16, 2024.
Puerta Gómez, Joaquín R., Pedro Aceituno-Aceituno, Concepción Burgos García, Aitana González-Ortiz-De-Zárate. "Higher Education in Shaping Essential Personality Traits" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 16, 2024).
Puerta Gómez, J.R., Aceituno-Aceituno, P., Burgos García, C., & González-Ortiz-De-Zárate, A. (2024, March 01). Higher Education in Shaping Essential Personality Traits. In Encyclopedia.
Puerta Gómez, Joaquín R., et al. "Higher Education in Shaping Essential Personality Traits." Encyclopedia. Web. 01 March, 2024.
Higher Education in Shaping Essential Personality Traits

Research on university education and its role in developing personality traits essential to achieving success in entrepreneurship is required because of the significance of entrepreneurship for advancements in the economic, social, technological, and environmental spheres. Additionally, the value of a university education in shaping an individual’s personality, and the necessity of emphasizing entrepreneurship in higher education for students to achieve real success, should be a priority in our society.

personality leadership decision making self-confidence fear of failure

1. Introduction

Research on university education and its role in developing personality traits essential to achieving success in entrepreneurship is required because of the significance of entrepreneurship for advancements in the economic, social, technological, and environmental spheres. Additionally, the value of a university education in shaping an individual’s personality, and the necessity of emphasizing entrepreneurship in higher education for students to achieve real success, should be a priority in our society.
Entrepreneurship plays a decisive role in global economic progress. The creation and development of new companies not only influences the economy of a country or region but also its social, technological, and environmental dimensions, given that the introduction of new products and services stimulates innovation and competitiveness, both of which function together as an essential engine for economic growth [1]. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the factors that contribute to entrepreneurship and the development of entrepreneurs [2]. In this sense, entrepreneurship cannot be defined as an isolated act but rather as a concatenated process that begins with the conception of the business idea, followed by the planning, execution, and, finally, consolidation of the business. Success emerges only at the end of the process, while difficulties can interrupt it at any time, resulting in failure.
Despite the abundant and diverse literature on the subject, no universal definition of entrepreneurial success has been established; however, it is clear that success requires entrepreneurial durability [3]. To measure it, some authors have used financial indicators such as revenue and profitability, as well as non-financial variables such as innovation and job creation. However, to measure entrepreneurial success, the entrepreneur’s point of view must be considered, including the motives that prompted them to start a business venture and the achievement of the personal goals set for themselves at the outset and in the subsequent stages [4]. Based on this last approach, the definition of entrepreneurial success involves the perspective of entrepreneurs, which is understood as the perception of the entrepreneur regarding whether they have achieved success under their own assessment.
But who is the entrepreneur, what drives them, and what traits define them? Research in the past decade related to the theory of the personality traits of entrepreneurship has focused on answering these questions. Entrepreneurial success is the result of personal and external factors. The entrepreneur’s personality traits play a vital role because, along the way, they will encounter obstacles, circumstances, and frustrations that require character and determination. Being able to overcome all these hardships requires a strong character, which makes the difference between persevering and giving up, and this will ultimately mean the difference between success and failure.
Developing an entrepreneurial personality requires time and effort. Education, especially in its early stages, is crucial in shaping the attitudes and skills necessary for entrepreneurship [5], as it cultivates self-confidence and reduces the fear of failure [6]. Education must promote values and attitudes to increase the likelihood of success of entrepreneurs [7], moving towards quality entrepreneurship. Educational programs throughout life are essential for personal and cultural transformation, with university education being fundamental in the final stage of the personality formation process [8].
These two aspects, success in entrepreneurship and the influence of university education, need to be improved because, as highlighted in the recommendations of the Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey (GUESSS), the most critical report in the world concerning university studies in entrepreneurship, it is not the number of entrepreneurial students that is decisive but rather the number of entrepreneurial students who are actually successful [9]. Some studies have addressed these two aspects, such as Listyaningsih et al. [10], Meng et al. [11], and Fuchs et al. [12]; however, there needs to be more studies on the importance of these two aspects, as shown in the literature review by Aparicio et al. [13], especially on the important aspect of developing personality traits from university education for entrepreneurial success. In this sense, Kuratko [14], starting almost 20 years ago, was already trying to reorient universities towards a new horizon, emphasizing the essential role of the professor for this purpose.
Studies have focused on the generation of entrepreneurial intentions among students through higher education, and it is true that there is an abundance of work in this regard [15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]. Also, in studies related to entrepreneurial intention, personality traits have been included [27][28][29][30]. Recent studies highlight the concept of green entrepreneurship and uncover ways to develop it, such as the work of Alshebami et al. [31]. Similarly, but unrelated to university education, instruments have been introduced to assess specific personality traits to predict entrepreneurial personality [32][33][34][35], and models based on the Big Five personality traits (extraversion, emotional stability, openness to experience, self-awareness, and agreeableness) have even been created to estimate the probability of success as an entrepreneur [36]. Additionally, the Big five have been studied together with entrepreneurial education and entrepreneurial behavior [37]; however, there is a lack of qualitative studies focusing on the exploration of university studies and its influence on the development of personality traits that are key to success in entrepreneurship.

2. Theory of Personality Traits in Entrepreneurship

Research on the personality traits of entrepreneurs gained popularity in the mid-20th century with a multidisciplinary approach involving the disciplines of economics, psychology, sociology, and business administration. In the early years, around the 1980s, the diversity in research findings led scholars to conclude that there was no correlation between personality and entrepreneurship [38]. However, since the early 21st century, the study of entrepreneurial personality has gained renewed interest. The personality trait theory of entrepreneurship assumes that entrepreneurs have a unique personality with discernible psychological characteristics and that, if researchers were to develop a method for locating these characteristics, researchers could identify entrepreneurs among a sample of individuals [39]. Based on this theory, the prevalence of personality characteristics in entrepreneurs versus other populations is investigated, and the correlation of these characteristics with entrepreneurial performance factors such as entrepreneurial survival and growth is also analyzed [40].
In recent years, several studies have examined the role of personality in predicting entrepreneurial performance and the traits that distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs [41]. Several literature reviews have summarized the insights into entrepreneurial personality traits that have been made based on the available academic research [42][43][44][45][46][47][48]. For example, Alcaraz Rodríguez [49], in his research on the entrepreneurial profile, set out to identify the personal characteristics that favor success in the business world. He reviewed more than 50 studies and quoted more than 150 authors, identifying 60 relevant personality traits. Among these, creativity, initiative, self-confidence, energy, perseverance, leadership, risk acceptance, need for achievement, tolerance to change, and problem-solving skills stand out. For its part, García del Junco et al. [8] conducted their study by following successful small- and medium-sized companies for at least five years. From the literature, they took the personal determinants of success that were most frequently repeated in research studies or that were given greater relevance and studied the presence of these characteristics in the entrepreneurs of the selected sample. The results made it possible to classify the factors in order of importance, dividing them into two categories: generators and enhancers. The former are essential and are associated with creativity, tenacity, dedication, self-confidence, personal pride, and solid management skills, while the latter reinforce the entrepreneurial spirit and include ambition, the right choice of partners, the willingness to take risks, and continuous dedication.
Other authors such as Saboia Leitão and Martín Cruz [50] suggested that personality and individual qualities play a crucial role in the development and outcome of entrepreneurial initiatives and sought to discover the profile of entrepreneurs who are most likely to achieve their objectives, highlighting the importance of creativity, innovation, self-criticism, and leadership skills.
The mix of generating and enhancing factors in the personal and interpersonal dimensions determines the entrepreneurial spirit, and this, according to García del Junco et al. [8], can be measured through analyses, making it possible to identify the people who are most likely to succeed when it comes to launching an entrepreneurial project. Although this supports the idea that people’s specific characteristics influence the outcome of entrepreneurial projects [51], it is also recognized that there is no perfect profile to guarantee success in entrepreneurship [52].
In short, knowing that there is no ideal profile that brings together all the influential traits necessary for success in entrepreneurship nor one that does so in a fair way to ensure business success, researchers do know from its overall reiteration in the literature analyzed that entrepreneurs who have developed a high degree of self-confidence can make decisions without the fear of failure and enjoy a leadership capacity that steers them to influence and extract the best out of the people they surround themselves with, have more significant resources within themselves to take on the difficulties they encounter, and can overcome the obstacles they know they will have to deal with along the uncertain path of entrepreneurship.

3. Leadership, Self-Confidence, and Decision Making without the Fear of Failure

3.1. Leadership

Leadership is a trait that stands out among entrepreneurs’ attributes that directly influence success [53][54]. This characteristic not only affects individual competencies but also shapes the attitude of those around the leader. Skills such as positively influencing the environment and driving capabilities towards business and personal goals are linked to this quality [55]. Leadership impacts areas such as decision making, goals, systemic thinking, proactive acting, and self-confidence. These effects are reflected in technical, interpersonal, and conceptual skills. Thus, leadership contributes to the development of entrepreneurship and facilitates the achievement of goals by channeling the efforts of collaborators [56]. Although it is related to authority, it differs in origin since leadership comes from personal skills. It is similar to power because it influences others’ decisions, but authentic leaders exercise it positively, maximizing the potential of others towards organizational objectives [55]. The entrepreneurial leader promotes progress in search of opportunities, innovation, and creative resolution by generating employee identification and commitment. The essence lies in motivating and improving the environment [55] while impacting the entrepreneur’s competencies [56].
Several studies relate leadership to entrepreneurship, such as the international exploratory study conducted by Felix et al. (2019) [57], which examined data from 34 countries and found that leadership had a determinant effect on entrepreneurship. The study by Van Hemmen et al. (2015) [58], in which they analyzed a sample drawn from 43 countries through the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness projects and found that participative leadership and higher education represented the most decisive explanatory factors in explaining the variance in entrepreneurial behavior.

3.2. Self-Confidence

A successful entrepreneur exhibits a naturally optimistic personality, responding positively to business adversities and showing high self-confidence when confronting challenges [59]. This mindset allows them to overcome the fear of failure and tackle problems with optimism by applying action strategies [60]. However, these qualities vary in intensity among individuals, and although the willingness to take risks is inherent to the profile of success, some entrepreneurs approach challenges with disbelief [61].
Optimism, self-confidence, and the ability to overcome the fear of failure are traits that directly influence the outcome of entrepreneurial initiatives [7][62][63]. From these traits arises achievement orientation, guiding decision making towards clear goals and tackling obstacles without losing control [60], which leads to achieving one’s objectives.
Research has shown that entrepreneurs are more self-confident than the non-entrepreneurial population [64]. Similarly, self-confidence influences entrepreneurial intentions [65], determines the entrepreneurial orientation of university students [66], and is related to general entrepreneurship [67], constituting a determinant of entrepreneurial success [68].


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