Academic Master

Human Resource And Management

Entrepreneurial Traits and Religiosity: A Literature Review


This study investigates different psychological traits of an entrepreneur. These personality traits comprise from the religious beliefs and cultural values. Religiosity play very important role to create and reshape entrepreneurial intentions. Such beliefs basis characters to hypothesis cognitive simulations modify entrepreneur behavior of individuals and they act accordingly. Religious perspective in actions leads towards the betterment of society and economic growth rather than keen of worldly pleasure. Plenty of research on entrepreneurial personality traits explains its impact on entrepreneurial behavior. In this study, we examine how the factor of religiosity impact on entrepreneurial personality traits and how these traits help to be a successful entrepreneur. Previous work mostly focused on certain personality traits on one time some of which are discussed here along with several personalities and demographic aspects such as motivation, independence, business skills, social networking, and internal locus of control, gender, age base self-image, and academic specialization. This work aims to take an overall view of the traits found in an entrepreneur and how a combination of beliefs, values modifies their entrepreneur behavior.


Religion and faith are the most valuable treasury of society (Dogan Gursoy, 2017). In individual’s life religion significantly influences human behavior which impacts society (Nwankwo and Gbadamosi, 2013). Combination of religion, culture, beliefs, value, and norms is the vital component of people’s lifestyle (Podgornyi, 2012). Individuals are particular believers which transform their beliefs in particular actions (Dogan Gursoy, 2017). These actions consist of consumption behavior, business practices as well as the working environment (Franziska, Gorkan 2014, Miller, and Timothy, 2010; Byrne et al., 2011). All the economic functions in Islamic economics has been influenced by the concept of livelihood ( al-Rizq) as well as (halal) and unlawful (haram) source of earnings. Therefore entrepreneurial activities can do in a halal way under the principals of Islam told by Prophet Muhammad SW. Islam plays an important role in the development of economic society Perkins (2003). Muslims in general low in economic achievements are usually challenged by western intellectuals.

Along with Muslim scholars, a significant number of western thinkers have acknowledged the reformist nature of Islam and acknowledged its positive attitude towards prosperity and desirability of achieving successful entrepreneurial activities (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013). In fact, entrepreneurship is the essential part of Islamic culture as shown by Prophet Muhammad SAW and his companions. Islam traditions always include positive and productive economic activities because Islam is a Religion of knowledge (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013). Prophet Muhammad SW was a merchant before the prophetic mission, as a result, a lot of Muslim entrepreneurs become successful entrepreneurs in the world. Entrepreneurship is a process of finding new horizons and uncovers new opportunities which at the end somehow beliefs mankind (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013). Such significant search requires innovative thinking which leads towards entrepreneurship. Al-Qur’an recognizes man as a being at once rational, volitional, acquisitive, and ethical. That is, Muslim should act to provide for existence on this material plane without sacrificing their moral sensibilities. Al-Qur’an insists on the harmony of Muslim’s spiritual and material interests (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013). It is guidance on how to achieve success in this life and the next which reshape their entrepreneurial behavior.

This behavior further can be seen in the actions of Muslims which differentiate them from non-Muslim entrepreneurs. These dimensions already analyzed by Muslim thinkers as a part of perceived religious behavior and further relates to modern entrepreneurial behavior theories ( Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013), Roberto, Miguel (2015). In modern entrepreneurship, an entrepreneur is identified as individuals who identify opportunities, make productive decisions under uncertain environment, risk takers and who perform a broad range of tasks with a hard work (Jeffery S. McMullen (2014). Certain personality characteristics are key elements to identify the probability of successful entrepreneur. Such personality attributes include proactive personality, innovativeness, thirst for achievement, tolerance of stress, willing to take risks and internal locus of control (Shane and Nicolaou, 2015) and in the context of the Big Five, higher Conscientiousness, Openness, Extraversion and lower Neuroticism (Franziska, Gorkan (2014).

These personality characteristics of an entrepreneur play a very significant role in literature and essential to study to understand entrepreneurial behavior and entrepreneurial intentions (Scott Shane, Nicos (2014). Furthermore growing empirical literature on entrepreneurial behavior and personality examines the role of psychological characteristics of a person are important determinants of entrepreneurship in addition combination of finance, education and family business experiences moderates entrepreneurial intentions (Imran, (2018). It is possible that such significant psychological attributes influences individual’s behavior and reshape it into a successful business owner. In another hand it is also possible that these individuals with specific psychological attributes do not attempt business ownership because of limited business knowledge, information and expertise (Marcela, Ana-Maria, (2014), similarly individuals with personality characteristics that influence them for business accomplishment might not value from entrepreneurship training, or least not benefit any more from entrepreneurship training as compared to individuals who do not possess these personality characteristics (Scott Shane, Nicos (2014)

Many intellects intellectualize personality traits as complex and genetically co-determined psycho-physiological structure which impact and moderates individual’s perception and further deriving towards specific behavior (Nicolaou & Shane, 2009).In this sense, personality traits are analyzed as a basic cause of mental and behavioral process (Jutta, Guido (2017). On the bases of these experimental research and theories helps to understand individual’s behavior and decision-making capabilities. Measurement of traits usually based on descriptions of how people think, feel and act in various situations and these specific actions are indicators of real internal causes which may be dominated by religion, education or knowledge (Jutta, Guido (2017). Thus, the intention of establishing a private business is not part of the definition of the trait Openness, but an effect of this trait and dominated beliefs.

Literature Review:

Religion plays a very significant role in reshaping the society, economic structure, ethical values, encouraging and discouraging certain behaviors (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013). These directions moderate individual’s perceptions and individuals actions accordingly. These belief base actions further analyzed by western thinkers and explained in Big Five personality trait’s theory. Entrepreneurial actions reflected specifically intended behavior which positively influenced by attitudes. The intention is related to the psychology of a person which consist of beliefs, perceptions, and actions (Ajzen, 1991). This conclusion is positively related to entrepreneurial traits observed in early Muslim entrepreneurial practices (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013).

Popular Muslim entrepreneurs must have faith (taqwa) to Allah SWT. Allah says:

“O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment? [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you if you should know”

(Al-Saff. 61: 10-11) [22] (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013).

Shapero and Sokol (1982), analyzed and reported that entrepreneurial intentions are related to behavior and attitude of an individual. Despite the shift in individual’s attitude with time, more behavioral attributes of a person can be predicted by their attitude and behavior (Carlson, 1985). It is also analyzed that if the intentions of a student knew better more effective entrepreneurial education system can be designed (Gibson et al., 2011).

Many studies on entrepreneurship concluded that specific personality traits are key to determine attributes of a successful entrepreneur. Innovativeness is the most important personality trait of an entrepreneur (Lachmann, Sariyska (2016). Innovativeness is described as “the development and implementation of a new idea” which is an ability to engage in a new and different practice which results creating new things or practice which are different from existing one. Innovative thinking is an essential part of entrepreneurial personality (Lachmann, Sariyska (2016). This helps them to realize and identify the need for a new product, service or new ways of problem-solving which distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs.This is part of strategic orientation and environmental perception of entrepreneurs (O’Regan & Ghobadian, 2005). Own recognition to perform better than past derives needs for achievement and such motivations towards achievement influence individual to think and perform in a creative way (Hansemark, 2003). Entrepreneurs have a high need for achievement and recognition which derives them to succeed in business by fulfilling their need. It is more emotional process includes emotional devotion beside capital knowledge. Such devotion refers towards passion, endurance, and confidence in business which motivates to become a distinct businessman (Runco, 2007).

Empirical research in past years makes considerable work that in general innovative peoples act creatively in different times and situations which makes them differ from others because of bringing up with a novel idea and exploiting of new opportunities (Rentschler, 2010). Entrepreneurs share many personality traits in Big Five Factor model which includes manly high extraversion and openness to new experience, low neuroticism, and agreeable (Brandstätter). Other property of entrepreneurs also includes self-efficacy, risk propensity, and locus of control from which risk-taking property effect in a larger size. Many researchers link high risk-taking behavior to a narcissism (Stewart and Roth (2001). This could judge with the fact that narcissists are very keen towards achievements and fear of failure observed low in them. The greed of greater benefits, self-satisfaction from own achievement drives them to moderates their risk-taking behavior which clearly differentiates them from non-narcissistic individuals and research also shows that entrepreneurs have the high level of confidence than managers (Minniti, & Schade, 2007).

Self-efficacy refers to the belief that an individual has it in his or her strength helps them to achieve certain goals by taking specific actions. It is less related to the skills someone got but the effective way of combining skills and action (Dimov, 2010). High level of self-efficacy leads towards business creation (Bryan, Yan (2018). On another hand, Narcissistic peoples prioritize themselves that they have some certain abilities which make them different and better from others which make them high risk-oriented persons (Cynthia, Étienne (2013). Entrepreneurs are the individuals which have abilities to control, organize and reshape their future or business and studies shows that locus of control is positively related to business success (Rauch and Frese, 2005). Therefore narcissists peoples significantly rate high locus of control individuals because they think that they control their destiny.

Entrepreneurs are the individuals who brings betterment for individuals and the society much more to answer about entrepreneurial attributes (Gartner, 2001).Studies show that entrepreneurs can be identified in sorts of professions working in many different ways and different environment. We can be analyzed some of the common characteristics from all of those professions chosen by entrepreneurs This view fits nicely with the Social-Cognitive Theory of Career and Academic Interests, Choice, and Performance (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, (1994), Bryan, Yan (2018). Need for achievement is a behavioral tendency which makes individual to take some certain actions. Involvement of kindness, cooperativeness and friendly nature of a person which is a quality called ‘openness’ in Big Five Factor model, helps them to achieve their goal effectively and efficiently. It also helps them to open up to new business ideas and leads towards new business activities by expanding the business by using their market business references and opening up to challenges. Gürol and Atsan (2006) report that need for achievement impact positively entrepreneurial intentions and moderates the behavior of an individual to take certain actions which leads them towards success.Certain attributes are quality attributes which one can measure themselves while facing the problem and solve it with innovativeness where gender also impact as a mediator (Carmen, Juan (2014).

Studies show that need for achievement positively impact on entrepreneurial intentions which make an individual to perform some productive actions to become successful with evidence (Franziska, Gorkan (2014). Risk-taking tendencies of an individual are the preference of an individual towards success and reward of success because these decisions are target oriented decisions which also increase the motivation level of an individual (Schneck, 2014). Extroversion is the tendency of an individual of being social, positive and active Lee and Tsang (2001) analyzed that extrovert individuals spend their time in making relations or become social friendly with other peoples and they often use these relations to contribute in the business success. The intensity of tolerance is related to entrepreneurs because they performing in both certain and uncertain environments so we can conclude that there is a positive relationship between tolerance of ambiguity and entrepreneurial intentions. To identify and understand successful entrepreneur adulthood is an important phase and it is observed from the study that half of the American youth aims to start own business (Teemu Kautonen Isabella Hatak (2015).

Previous research shows that effect of aging on entrepreneurial intentions also plays an important role to become a successful entrepreneur. The probability of starting a new business or be a successful entrepreneur is most active in the range of 35-44 years, after which it declines with each of passing year (Teuscher, 2009). From young individuals, a successful entrepreneur can be somehow identified by using Theory of Planned Behavior (Carsrud, 2000).These personality attributes help researchers to identify the potential entrepreneur mind. It is also observed that experience, education, social and financial capital helps to strengthen their perceive entrepreneurial attributes and to become a successful businessman (Dew, & Grichnik, 2013). The intensity of competitiveness increases with practical experiences, trainings, psychological and emotional engagement with the additional years of age (Krueger et al (2000). Not every opportunity is a potential opportunity for everyone and not everyone can recognize it only individual having an intensity of entrepreneurial intentions pursue towards success by using these opportunities creatively and these abilities of an entrepreneur differ an individual from others (Samuelsson & Davidsson, 2009). Previous research shows that there is a strong link between the beliefs, self-image and entrepreneurial behavior ( Farmer, Yao, and Kung-Mcintyre (2011).

The self-based image further related to the age-based self-self image where individual’s image of their entrepreneurial potential in term of their age (Teemu Kautonen Isabella Hatak (2015). Socio-emotional selectivity theory (Carstensen, 1991) proposed that person’s age based self-image related to entrepreneurship moderates entrepreneurial intention-behavior relationship. Therefore positive age based self-image leads towards a positive evaluation of an individual’s entrepreneurial self and opportunity context (Teemu Kautonen Isabella Hatak (2015). Once intention of engaging in entrepreneurial activity develops, a positive age based entrepreneurial self-induce individual to engage themselves in knowledge acquisition to perform specific entrepreneurial tasks. Individuals who identify themselves with certain capabilities are more likely to develop strong entrepreneurial ambitions and capability beliefs (Teuscher, 2009), which generates more entrepreneurial behavior (Teemu Kautonen Isabella Hatak (2015).

Research also shows that by the age of eleven or twelve some participants displayed entrepreneurial capacities such as inventiveness, tolerance and most important temporary setbacks (Damon (2008). Furthermore, it is also observed that young people’s having high entrepreneurial intentions shared many early age experiences which they observed from outside environment like from immediate family experiences, education and on hand experience which further strongly affect their entrepreneurial mindset (G. John, Heather 2014 ). This makes them realize to develop something new for the betterment of peoples and society.This action collectively from individuals impact on positive economic growth. Encouragement from family and outside peoples motivates them to learn from mistakes and learn a specific skill set to overcome the chances of the failure (Marco, Teemu (2015), John, Heather (2014).

According to socio-emotional selectivity theory, individual who thinks that they have a possible number of opportunities and time, they try to acquire a specific skill set to pursue them with the passage of time (Ziene, Karla (2018). Knowledge acquisition behavior aimed at learning about new things and us that specific creative knowledge into career advancement activities (Robert, William (2012), Holleran Ng & Feldman, 2010). More knowledge acquisition tendency leads towards competency development which is a key to become a successful entrepreneur. Social cognitive perspective, individual believe in themselves will increase their capacity to undertake specific tasks which become a role of an entrepreneur (Ziene, Karla (2018) These abilities positively relate with pursuing towards an entrepreneurial set of actions (Seibert, & Hills, 2005). Individuals cognitively explore their entrepreneurial attributes by testing conventions, exploring different ways of doing business and trying to discover potential barriers to start a new business and make it successful. Cognitive entrepreneurial abilities positively relate to opportunity finding and innovativeness (Krueger, 2000).

A conceptual connection between risk taking and financial threat were previously found in literature and when entrepreneur thinks about taking a risk this phenomena conceptually relates to threats observed cognitively (Miller, 2007). Hobfoll’s (1989) conservation of resources theory, established that potential damage of capitals can cause stress in an individual and further leads toward self-consciousness to evade future loss. According to these findings, it is probable that entrepreneurs going through unfavorable economic conditions can avoid certain limit of loss by using their conscious attitude towards business. These individuals having entrepreneurial attributes when acting as a financial decision maker for a company, they can maximize the profit and ensure the financial success of a firm. These assumptions are also supported by economic-scarcity trends in decision making (Haushofer and Fehr, 2014). It is also observed that socio-economic forces effect in different levels such as individual level, national level and intra-national level (Diemo Urbig, Utz (2012). Some researchers concluded that there is a positive correlation between family venturing and risk-taking property of an individual. Family manager understands that risk-taking is essential for exploring new opportunities with the passage of time which gives a company competitive advantage and to sustain aggressive decision making helps the company to sustain and capture a maximum number of customers (Zahra, 2005).

It is clearly observed that risk-taking property is a distinct property of Muslim family managers where proactive approach and innovation play a very significant role (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013). Some of the researchers also analyzed that entrepreneurs running family firms sometimes feel shy to take risks, fear of loss and firm’s long-term business survival make them conscious to take bold financial decisions (Levent, Melih (2012). Entrepreneurs running a family business become more risk takers with the passage of time, like if the first generation didn’t take risks so much, managers from new generation running same family business were observed more risk takers because the keen to expand business or sustain in market along with competition (Levent, Melih (2012) . These managers enhance their family business and take it to a competitive edge by using their entrepreneurial skill set rather than starting a new business from a scratch. This is the typical type of Islamic traditional entrepreneurship where the family business is a pride and peoples are getting benefit from it, so they try to keep running and expanding business along with a noble deed to help others in a society (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013), Thomas, Peter (2011).

Islamic Entrepreneurship and Modern theories:

Islam and entrepreneurship have found significantly related to each other because Islamic values positively affect main components of business initiatives such as management ( D. Gursoy et al, 2017, Dyck, 2014; Abuznaid, 2009). Religion, being an integral and inseparable part of individual’s life, significantly influences the society through shaping human behaviors (Nwankwo and Gbadamosi, 2013). Research by Rokeach (1973) and later by Schwartz (1992), concluded that religion shapes and directs entrepreneurial behavior, which was scrutinized in Schwartz intrinsic motivational theory. This theory proposed the dimensions such as self-focused orientations representing power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, and self-direction, as well as other-focused intentions including, universalism, benevolence, tradition, conformity, and security. Based on the “Five Factor Model” analysis, Roccas et al. (2002), proposed that personality traits highly effects from religion. These theories established a strong linkage between values and religion. Further exploration (e.g., Schwartz and Huismans, 1995), through the prism of theological, sociological and psychological approaches, has revealed clear relationships between religious alignment and values where “conformity/tradition” is argued to be primarily associated with the religious belief of beings, while less positive relations related to “security” and “benevolence” (Dogan, Levent, 2017). Islam moderates the behavior of Muslim entrepreneurs which were associated with both material and spiritual gains, by designing such system which is beneficial for others in term of welfare rather than own benefits (Gümüsay, 2015).

Muslim entrepreneurs designed such business strategies which were social welfare driven. Muslims have faith in Allah SW, their traits and actions were based on Islamic religious teachings as stated in Holy Quran :

“O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment? [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you if you should know”

(Al-Saff. 61: 10-11) [22] (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013).

Graafland et al. (2006, p. 392), states that Muslim entrepreneur was dominated by ideas and actions which were socially useful and contributes to Islamic economic society. Muslim entrepreneurs observed significantly different from non-Muslim entrepreneurs from early ages when there are no such western theories explaining psychological traits of individuals. Hoque et al. (2013) , analyzed the personality traits of Muslim business mans such as truthfulness, hardworking, honest, high morality, patience, strategic thinking behavior, think of social welfare which were considered as highly influential values which dominates the behavior of an individual and impact on both micro and macro levels. However, depending on the individual level of spirituality, Muslim believers may possess different levels of devotion and ethical recognition (Ismaeel and Blaim, 2012). Therefore, in order to provide clear insights into the interrelation between religion and entrepreneurship, Altinay (2008) suggests demarcating two concepts such as “practicing Muslim believers” and “non-practicing Muslims”. The distinction is important for research because these two categories of entrepreneurs demonstrate different models of entrepreneurial behavior according to the different levels of religiosity, and depending on the extent to which entrepreneurs apply religious values to everyday life. For example, Altinay (2008) in the case of ethnic Turkish Muslims, argues that entrepreneurs with a weak religious bias are more inclined to deviate from the common norms prescribed by Islam (such as taking interest-based financial loans, selling alcohol and pork) in order to more easily exploit opportunities in long-standing markets; this is instead of seeking new opportunities in a niche market (Halal and Muslim friendly) which in turn may require additional monetary as well as non-monetary costs, and likely needs an innovative approach to entrepreneurial exploitation.


Personality traits may be most significant indicators for predicting successful entrepreneurial behavior. A large and increasing body of the literature concluded that individual’s beliefs, values, and culture have an impact on individual’s behavior (Rossberger,2014; ). This research article extends our knowledge about entrepreneurial traits and religiosity. We explore the effect of religious values on entrepreneurial traits and how these values moderates entrepreneurial behavior. We examined that religion play very significant role in the life of an individual and his behavior reshapes by these religious values. Findings of this study help us to understand Islamic values, their relationship with entrepreneurial traits and further entrepreneurial behavior. These Islamic values help to establish an enrich community having high social, moral and economic values as we see how Islam spread all over the world and established many societies. These values further enhance individual intentions and behavior towards social entrepreneurship which Islam focuses the most on developing a solution to own problems and pursue towards economic growth.

Islam sees everything as a comprehensive element including entrepreneurship and having a positive attitude towards the right of property and entrepreneurship (Wilson (2006). Previous literature shows that religious values are key determinants to reshape individual’s behavior and attitude (Duriez et al., 2001; Fontaine et al., 2000; Kusdil and Kagitcibasi, 2000; Roccas et al., 2002; Roccas and Schwartz, 1997; Schwartz and Huismans, 1995) , providing support to our assumption that religion not only shapes everyday life but also their work or business values. Findings further indicated that religion also influences work attitude and relationship between entrepreneurial actions and society. Three important dimensions such as (universalism, security, and self –direction), are found highly significant determinants of Muslim entrepreneurs which affect their behavior. Muslim entrepreneurs fuscous mainly on the welfare of society, social norms, traditions and community development. Having this religious motivation we can say that Muslim entrepreneurs were the founder to develop such an entrepreneurial structure where the high value of community development and preservation of traditions are basic norms of doing business. Previous studies reviled that if entrepreneur founds that their business provides benefits to society, they encourage other business to take steps for the welfare of society which improves their personal and business reputation as well (Cetin and Walls, 2016).

A positive influence of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism and sixth trait i-e honesty and humility are found key attributes of a successful entrepreneur ( Diemo Urbig, Utz Weitzel, 2012). Extraversion includes being social which allows individuals to create and engage with social networks. This allows an entrepreneur to identify further business opportunities or smooth business transactions. It can also help knowledge exploration process which triggers another significant entrepreneurial attribute called ‘innovativeness”. Islam cares for the society and established welfare based Islamic entrepreneurial system where every individual contributes to the society by any positive mean he/she can. It makes peoples “openness” to any new idea which can be the beneficiary of the society and “Agreeable” to change and reach in a positive way. Prophet Muhammad SAW was always committed to education and always ensures the importance of education. Islamic entrepreneurship is achievement oriented and it brings value addition to individual’s knowledge, making them innovative and motivation of reward from Allah make him/her more conscientiousness towards achievements. It makes entrepreneur satisfied with life and enhance more positive entrepreneurial actions.

Allah SW says :

“Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend from that which you love. And whatever you spend indeed, Allah is Knowing of it “(Ali „Imrān 3: 92) (Faizal, Ridhwan, (2013).

In Muslim culture “Fatalism” is characterized by the phrase “InshAllah” which means “if Allah SW will it” which clearly indicates the trust in Allah SW and principals told by Islam. The concept of fard-kifayah (collective obligations) in Islam is the tendency of society to meet its basic needs from a definite activity which become a national obligation. It Significantly triggers entrepreneurial intentions of an individual and number of Muslim population undertake entrepreneurial activities by their own choice as it’s the Nobel deed which contributes in Islamic economic system and also a source of job creations for the poor. Allah SW says:

“But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the home of the Hereafter, nor forget Thy portion In This world: but do Thou good, As Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief In the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief ” (Al-Qashash. 28: 77) .

Prophet Muhammad SAW also praises moral entrepreneurial activity. It is more like social gain rather than personal gain entrepreneurial activity. This makes entrepreneur more careful about their business and reputation. This knowledge further passes on to their children’s which starts learning from their elders in early age and then continue their family business as a motivation as well. In Muslim entrepreneurial families, this religious context of doing the business plays a significant role to trigger entrepreneurial intentions in an individual from a very young age. These entrepreneurial capacities can be judged from a very young age i-e eleven or twelve (Damon (2008), improved along with education and age respectively. Significantly, these attributes improve their faith, knowledge and risk-taking abilities from generation to generations and they try new business ideas which maximize family business and socio-economic growth of a society.



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