Examining Factors of Entrepreneurial Success: Culture, Gender, Education, Family, Self-Perception

Sohail Zafar, Iqbal M. Khan


Objective: To examine the potential and contribution of culture, gender, education, family background and self-perception as factors of success in entrepreneurial ventures in Punjab the largest (64%) population province of Pakistan.

In the context of developing countries economic growth is attributed to small enterprises as they generate employment.  Mortality rate of small enterprises is exceedingly high; and a study by Khawaja (2006) on Pakistan SME has reported that only 19% start-ups survived before they reach the 5th year.

Prior Work: However in another study by Vesper (1990), in non-Pakistani environment found that only 10% of ventures survive after three years of existence. Therefore it is important to study success as perceived by entrepreneurs and various contributing influences. About the definition of entrepreneurial success there is no consensus among researchers. Stefanovic et al 2010 enumerated previous experience, hard work, access to capital, personal capabilities, and leadership skills as factors affecting success experience and knowledge. Focus on role of education is not meant to deny the importance of other factors that contribute to entrepreneurial success, such as, the nature of the entrepreneur; his/her character traits.    McClelland (1961) had attributed achievement motivation as an entrepreneurial success factor. Cox and Jennings (1995) had identified innovativeness in decision making.  Hodgets and Kuratko (1992) have identified opportunity recognition as an important characteristic of entrepreneurs; Dafna (2008) has focused on leadership qualities as factors affecting success.

Approach: However this study is an attempt to understand the role of selected influences that have been mentioned as having some contribution toward success of entrepreneurs; and these were:  1) education, 2) gender, 3) culture, 4) family, and 5) subjectively self - perceived reason of success. Therefore this study is more exploratory than theoretical. Two research questions were explored in this study.

Result: Male and female entrepreneurs differed significantly with respect to years of formal education completed as well as with respect to the medium of instructions during formal schooling.   Male and female entrepreneurs differed about their reasons for success, especially about God-gifted qualities and hard work being main reasons for success. Successful entrepreneurs were found more likely to have taken college level SME/ entrepreneurship courses.  Other successful entrepreneurs were found educated informally and gained knowledge through own reading as well.   Other successful entrepreneurs reported that their family background of being in business, their father being in business, and maternal uncle being in business were the likely influences of family and friends. Less successful entrepreneurs were found blaming government failure in providing support to entrepreneurial activity. The successful did not blame the government. Successful entrepreneurs were found likely to be college educated Punjabis.

Implication: the Punjabi factor is crucial in this study as Pakistan has a population of 180 million and the Punjabi community comprises of nearly 64% of the population. A knowledge into entrepreneurial success and motivation would help in policymaking oriented toward entrepreneurial development leading to economic development. The other implication would be less reliance to prepare job seekers who are professionals – hence working towards a paradigm shift in education policy.

Value: The paper is one of the first to focus on detailed research related activity on the subject of entrepreneurial success factors. Therefore adds to mote comprehensive understanding of creating an Enterprising Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.

Keywords: Entrepreneurial Success factors; education, gender, family, self-perception, culture

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