What matters more for entrepreneurship success? A meta-analysis comparing general mental ability and emotional intelligence in entrepreneurial settings

Jared S. Allen, Regan M. Stevenson, Ernest H. O'Boyle, Scott Seibert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research Summary: Using meta-analysis, we investigate the extent to which General Mental Ability (GMA) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) predict entrepreneurial success. Based on 65,826 observations, we find that both GMA and EI matter for success, but that the size of the relationship is more than twice as large for EI. Our study contradicts and adds important contextual nuance to previous meta-analyses on performance in traditional workplace settings, where GMA is considered to be more critical than EI. We also contribute to the literature on cognitive and emotional intelligence in entrepreneurship. Managerial Summary: While previous studies have shown General Mental Ability (GMA, cognitive intelligence) to be more important for success compared to Emotional Intelligence (EI) in traditional workplace settings, we theorize that EI will be more important in entrepreneurial contexts. Entrepreneurship is an extreme setting with distinct emotional and social demands relative to many other organizational settings. Moreover, managing an entrepreneurial business has been described as an “emotional rollercoaster.” Thus, on a relative basis we expected EI to matter more in entrepreneurial contexts and explore this assumption using a meta-analysis of 65,826 observations. We find that both GMA and EI matter for entrepreneurial success, but that the size of the relationship is more than twice as large for EI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-376
Number of pages25
JournalStrategic Entrepreneurship Journal
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management

Keywords

  • cognitive ability
  • emotional intelligence
  • entrepreneur
  • meta-analysis
  • performance

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