Abstract

Gartner (1988) famously argued that “‘who is an entrepreneur?’ Is the wrong question”. His argument fuelled the debate to replace traits as a unit of analysis with behaviour, and to focus on organization creation. However, recent trait research has demonstrated a significant distinction between the entrepreneur and manager, while the rise of the micro-entrepreneur, someone who runs a business without employees, requires us to relax the assumption that the entrepreneur always forms an organisation. Micro-entrepreneurs are ubiquitous, comprising 75% of US businesses in 2013, for example, yet they are excluded from most theories of the entrepreneur. I examine how the micro- entrepreneur’s income and subjective well-being (SWB) varies with personality compared to the entrepreneur and the employee. Income has been shown to be positively related to SWB, however, traits are stronger predictors of SWB. I draw these elements together in a theory where: traits provide the ‘how’, income provides the ‘what’, SWB provides the ‘why’, and causality specifications of a mediating framework provides the ‘when’ (Whetten, 1989); leading to a hypothesis that income mediates the relationship between specific traits and SWB.

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