According to the researchers, who compiled the report by comparing data on 12 year-olds from 1968 to what they were doing 40 years later, children who became entrepreneurs as adults were often the ones who got into trouble as kids. They also noted a higher rate of criminal offences, albeit mostly misdemeanours. For example, those who later founded their own companies were more likely as teenagers to have cheated and shoplifted.
Stockholm researchers in 2013 also found that antisocial behaviour among boys was a positive indicator of future entrepreneurship.
This sits hand-in-hand with the stereotype of entrepreneurs sometimes being classed as selfish, said lead author Martin Obschonka. He further suggested that it could be the “early entrepreneurial spirit” kicking in. The same urge to innovate, think outside the box, take risks and break rules that helps an entrepreneur later in life might lead them to display destructive behaviour as a teenager.
The study noted: “While Harvard business school professor Abraham Zaleznick once said, ‘I think if we want to understand the entrepreneur, we should look at the juvenile delinquent,’ one might also say, ‘If we want to understand the development of the male entrepreneur, we should look at modest juvenile rule-breaking behaviour.
“These results thus do not draw an overly negative picture regarding antisocial tendencies among entrepreneurs. The results rather suggest that male entrepreneurs, when compared to male non-entrepreneurs, may go through a somewhat stronger rebellious and non-conformist phase in adolescence with regard to their behaviours. Essentially, they may ‘drift’ towards antisocial involvements in their adolescent years without becoming outlaws or developing into notorious criminals.”
Read more about British entrepreneurship:
- The sacrifices British entrepreneurs make to launch a new business
- UK leads the charge for female entrepreneurship in Europe
- How Airbnb has become a source of funding for UK entrepreneurs
The study expanded on the results of a similar 2009 study that originally found a connection between breaking moderate rules as adolescents and entrepreneurial tendencies later in life.
It found that male entrepreneurs during their teenage years were more likely to come home past curfew or talk back to their parents than the average male youth who went on to pursue a different career.
Female entrepreneurship could not be predicted by anti-social teenage behaviour in either reports.
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