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Differentiating the effects of entrepreneurs’ intelligence and educational attainment on venture outcomes

Brian D. Blume (University of Michigan, Flint, Michigan, USA)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 21 September 2018

Issue publication date: 4 April 2019




Intelligence or general mental ability (GMA) is a strong predictor of job performance across most occupations, and educational attainment has been shown to be a predictor of entrepreneurial outcomes. However, there has been little research examining the simultaneous effects of entrepreneurs’ GMA and educational attainment on their venture outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of these human capital resources on venture performance and survival.


Using a sample of 234 self-employed entrepreneurs from a longitudinal database, regression analysis was employed to examine the predictors of venture performance. A hazard model was utilized to assess venture survival.


Entrepreneurs’ intelligence influenced venture performance directly and indirectly via educational attainment. Entrepreneurs with higher GMA were subsequently able to obtain more education, and GMA had an indirect, positive influence on venture performance through this additional educational attainment. Findings also demonstrated an inverted-U, curvilinear effect on venture survival for GMA and educational attainment. This indicates that both intelligence and educational attainment should be considered when examining how likely entrepreneurs are to persist or survive in their ventures.


Entrepreneurs with higher GMA had ventures that performed better and obtained more education, which influenced venture survival. These findings suggest that entrepreneurs’ intelligence is likely to be an important predictor of venture outcomes, as well as a source of entrepreneurs’ human capital acquisition. Therefore, GMA should have a more central role in the human capital discussion within the entrepreneurship literature.



The author would like to thank to Dan Holland, Jie Li, Kirby Shedden, Mark Simon and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and assistance in developing the manuscript. Thanks also to the Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for financially supporting this project.


Blume, B.D. (2019), "Differentiating the effects of entrepreneurs’ intelligence and educational attainment on venture outcomes", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 518-537.



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