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What is a good worker? Non-cognitive skills and trade microenterprises’ success

Edgar P. Alva (Department of Accounting, Universidad del Pacífico, Lima, Peru)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 28 January 2019

Issue publication date: 9 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is to identify the principal qualities that define a good worker for microenterprises of the trade sector according to the contemporary literature of the human capital and associated with the Big Five personality traits. It also determines the effect of those skills over the success of trade microenterprises in the context of a developing country.


A total of 393 owners/managers of microenterprises located in six trade zones of Lima district in Peru were involved in this study. They were randomly selected and asked to answer a survey of perceptions about the microenterprise’s performance and workers’ behavior.


The results demonstrate that workers that possess mainly non-cognitive skills would be considered as good workers for trade microenterprises. These skills are associated with four of the Big Five personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, openness or autonomy and conscientiousness. Also, the results show that punctuality, honesty and assertiveness, associated with the traits such as extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness, are the principal non-cognitive skills that impact positively over microenterprises’ success.

Research limitations/implications

The performance of workers is only based on owners/managers’ perceptions.

Practical implications

The owners/managers’ role is important to help workers to develop the necessary skills that can contribute to the microenterprise. In that sense, if the direct contact that exists between them is leveraged, owners/managers could implement strategies such as mentoring to promote the personal and professional growth of their workers.


This study provides useful information about how specific non-cognitive skills of workers can contribute to the success of trade microenterprises in developing countries like Peru.



The author would like to thank Professor Peter Stokes and the two anonymous reviewers for constructive and insightful comments throughout the review process. The author also grateful to Vanina H. Vivas and María Cecilia Urcia for assistance in the research development, whose points of view has been valuable.


Alva, E.P. (2019), "What is a good worker? Non-cognitive skills and trade microenterprises’ success", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 986-1003.



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