By Alana Bonfiglio ‘22, Journalism

Anh Dinh and Luis Oberrauch
   Anh Dinh and Luis Oberrauch

This past spring, Lehigh@NasdaqCenter Research Fellows Anh Dinh from TU Dortmund and Luis Oberrauch from Universität Koblenz-Landau conducted a study on the various factors that contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset and examined what these factors might mean for the development of future entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurial mindset is understood to be a combination of motives, traits, skills, and thought processes that determine success.

Through surveying entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial educators, and students, Dinh and Oberrauch identified the key attributes that contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset. Dinh and Oberrauch’s research highlighted some significant gaps in these attributes based on socio-demographic factors.

Findings produced by a survey of founders and entrepreneurial educators, as well as a comprehensive literature review, revealed that expert groups have a preference for personality-related and attitude-related attributes over knowledge and expertise when evaluating the aspects of an entrepreneurial mindset. This preference is significant because it suggests that entrepreneurial success is not determined by who already has the most training, but instead by attributes that can be cultivated by the motivated. These findings reveal that great ideas and business training are not the only key ingredients in the recipe of entrepreneurial success. Instead, it is largely attitude and personality traits that make up a modern, global entrepreneurial mindset. Traits like self-efficacy and resilience are essential to developing the whole entrepreneur from the inside out.

This research allowed Dinh and Oberrauch to compile a list of 11 critical dimensions of an entrepreneurial mindset:

  • Opportunity recognition and exploitation
  • Risk-taking 
  • Uncertainty & ambiguity tolerance 
  • Creativity & imaginativeness 
  • Innovative behavior 
  • Value creation
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience
  • Self-efficacy
  • Proactivity
  • Mistakes & failure competence

Previous measurement scales do not explicitly include opportunity recognition and exploitation; yet, opportunity recognition has been cited as a core entrepreneurial competence. This is particularly significant because student surveys revealed some inequities with the ability to recognize and pursue opportunities among certain socio-demographic groups. 

Dinh and Oberrauch’s research showed a moderate and significant gender gap in which opportunity recognition favored male students. Additionally, U.S. students showed a significantly higher tendency towards opportunity recognition compared to German students.

Lehigh@NasdaqCenter’s core value of inclusivity is working to close these gaps. The Center’s programs are open to all students, regardless of background or career path. By increasing access and engagement in entrepreneurial programs, Lehigh@NasdaqCenter is creating an environment in which all students can thrive. 

Perhaps the most compelling component of Dinh and Oberrauch’s research is the revelation that entrepreneurial education has the ability to increase approval rates among the identified components of an entrepreneurial mindset.

In fact, respondents who attended entrepreneurship courses showed higher levels of imaginativeness, opportunity recognition, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy, particularly in women and girls, which suggests that we can close the identified socio-demographic gaps through education.

These findings have left us more dedicated than ever to our journey to educate, connect and inspire the next generation of global entrepreneurial leaders. Our innovative programs such as Startup Academy, the Global Entrepreneurial Fellowship and Silicon Valley Innovation Internship all work to build the entrepreneurial skills that Dinh and Oberrauch identified as crucial to developing and maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset. 

About Lehigh@NasdaqCenter
Lehigh@NasdaqCenter is an exclusive academic in-residence collaboration between Lehigh University and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco. The goal of this partnership is to accelerate student transformation and societal impact through inclusive entrepreneurial education, research and thought leadership. We are developing the next generation of global entrepreneurial leaders through innovative programs, as well as creating and disseminating new knowledge that advances the field of entrepreneurship education and practice. 

Lehigh@NasdaqCenter has already begun working to close the gap between research and practice to unlock the entrepreneurial potential in all students. We invite you to join us on our journey to creating the entrepreneurial mindsets of tomorrow.

Rob Gerth

Rob Gerth

Rob Gerth is director of marketing and communications at Lehigh Business.