Do the genes which make up the person you are today contain the information needed to become an entrepreneur? Are we pre-coded from birth to inherit these money making traits for our parents or is it all to do with how we are brought up and educated? 

Entrepreneurs create wealth and jobs. Because of these 2 facts, they are seen as a vital part of a region or nations economy. Without entrepreneurs we would live in a very different world. Governments, Schools, Universities, and business groups are continually on the look out for ways to ignite entrepreneurship in people. But despite all of this, nobody knows exactly what it is that sparks someone to create their own business. However, many recent studies suggest that a substantial part of that ‘spark’ could be due to an individuals genetic make up.

Nicos Nicolaou (lecturer in entrepreneurship at Tanaka School of Business, Imperial College London), Scott Shane (Mixon Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, Case Western Reserve Universities Weatherhead School of Management), Janice Hunkin, Tim Spector and Lynn Cherkas (Twin research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St Thomas Hospital in London, home of the UK Twin Registry of over 10,000 twins), all came together and collaborated in this unique study.

They compared the ‘rate’ of entrepreneurship between more than 1,250 pairs of identical (and fraternal) twins within the United Kingdom. They concluded that almost half, around 48% of a persons propensity to become self-employed and start their own business is genetic. 

The collaboration did a study of self employment among 609 pairs of identical twins, and compared that to self employment of 657 pairs of same sex fraternal twins in the United Kingdom. Identical twins share 100% of their genetic composition with each other, while fraternal twins only share around 50% on average. They concluded that the rate at which identical twin pairs both became entrepreneurs and the rate at which both sets of fraternal twins became entrepreneurs can be attributed to genetics. “One can look at the patterns of concordance (the numbers of pairs of twins in which both members are or are not entrepreneurs) and reasonably infer that genetic factors account for the differences” says Scott Shane.

The collaboration of scientists proposed several methods in which genetic factors may influence a persons tendency to become an entrepreneur. For example, genetics may predispose a person to develop traits such as being very sociable, or an extrovert. In turn this can pave the way to this person obtaining skills such as salesmanship, which is a vital skill attributed to an entrepreneurs success.

Genes have also been shown to affect the amount, or level of education an individual might receive. Thus, people receiving a higher level of education are much more likely to become entrepreneurs, as they are more likely to be able to recognize new business opportunities where others may not.

In conclusion, their studies have shown a clear genetic predisposition towards entrepreneurship, making it possible to proceed with further studies to identify the specific genes that are involved in being an entrepreneur. 

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