Business Creativity Module
Critical Thinking and the
Creative Personality
Carolyn McNicholas
Aberdeen Business School, RGU
Key Questions
• How do creative/ entrepreneurial people differ?
• What makes one creative/ entrepreneurial?
• Can anyone be creative/ entrepreneurial?
• Do you need special skills and characteristics
to be an entrepreneur?
• Are entrepreneurs born or made?
Personality Traits
Strong need for achievement (Nach) McCelland 1965
• high achievers
• spend time considering how to do a job better or
how to accomplish something important to them.
• They actively seek out opportunities to take
responsibility and
• They welcome feedback on their actions
Risk taking propensity
• Medium, calculated risk takers
• Avoid high and low risk situations
• Ability to evaluate risk
Personality Traits
• Locus of control Rotter 1966
• desire to be in control of their own fate
• High internal LOC
• the achievement of a goal is dependent on their
own behaviour
• Tolerance of ambiguity Schere 1982
have an open mind,
respond quickly to change,
need to know only the key facts
have a flexible attitude
Personality Traits
Desire for autonomy Birley and Westhead 1993
high need for independence
Smith 1967- fear of external control
Self confidence
Personality Traits Chell, Haworth and Brearley
(1994) & Chell 2008
Opportunity recognition/ Opportunistic
Entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE)
Social competence
Agents of change
The ‘Big Five’ based on Costa and
McCrae’s (1992) model of personality
Chell 2008 p.123
Anxiety, angry hostility, depression,
self-consciousness, impulsiveness,
Warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness,
activity, excitement-seeking, positive
Fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions,
ideas, values
Trust, straightforwardness, altruism,
compliance, modesty, tendermindedness
Competence, order, dutifulness,
achievement-striving, self-discipline,
The Personality Approach
Observations are that:
• Some personality traits can be acquired by people
• Some traits eg high energy, emotional stability are
• Most entrepreneurs do not possess all of the ideal
personality traits
• The validity and reliability of personality scales are
The Personality Approach
• Entrepreneurs are not homogenous
• Gender, age, social class, nationality and education
make a difference
• Environment and cultural influences must also be
taken into account
• Entrepreneurial decision making is based on the
interaction of many factors (motivations, stage in life
cycle, personal economic context)
Background of Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are:
• Female
• Immigrant
• Socially oriented
• Family oriented
• Rurally based
• Young and old
• Life style oriented (hobby/part time)
• Serial Entrepreneurs
The 10 Ds
Bygrave (2010)
Critical Attributes for Success
Brannick 1995
Numerical ability 1%
Verbal ability 3%
Professional marketing qualification 5%
Computer literacy 5%
Imagination 17%
Observational powers 18%
Personal judgement 24%
Ability to get on with others 27%
Desirable and Acquirable
Attitudes Timmons (2008)
Commitment and determination
• Tenacity and decisiveness
• Able to commit quickly
• Disciplined
• Persistent in solving problems
• Willing to undertake personal sacrifice
• Self starter
• Team builder and hero
• Share the wealth
• Integrity and reliability
• Superior learner and teacher
Desirable and Acquirable
Attitudes Timmons (2008)
Opportunity obsession
Have intimate knowledge of customers needs
Market driven
Obsessed with value creation and enhancement
Tolerance of risk, ambiguity and uncertainty
Calculated risk taker
Risk minimiser/ sharer
Tolerant of uncertainty
Tolerant of stress
Able to resolve problems and integrate solutions
Desirable and Acquirable
Attitudes Timmons (2008) contd
Creativity, self-reliance & ability to adapt
Creative and lateral thinker
Ability to adapt and change; creative problem solver
Ability to learn quickly
Rely on own judgement & lack of fear of failure
Motivation to excel
Goal and results orientation
Low need for status and power
Aware of weaknesses and strengths
Have perspective and a sense of humour
Characteristics of Entrepreneurs
Kaplan 2009
• Passionately seek to identify new
• Pursue opportunities with discipline and
focus on a limited number of projects
• Focus on action and execution
• Involve and energise networks of
So what is an Entrepreneur?
• “Who is the entrepreneur ?” may be
the wrong question
• Why successful entrepreneurs think
the way they do, might be better?
• Thinking processes can be taught, so
we can all be entrepreneurs if we
learn how to develop and evaluate
Cognitive abilities
Westhead, Wright & McElwee 2011
Information acquisition and dissemination
Intelligence, ability with information
Sense making
Implementation and improvisation,
autonomous behaviour, experimentation,
reflection and action
Entrepreneurs Cognitive
Processes (Palich & Bagby 1995)
• Entrepreneurs do NOT perceive
themselves as being more pre-disposed to
taking risks than managers
• Entrepreneurs interpret equivocal data in a
more positive way than managers
– Strengths versus weaknesses
– Opportunities versus threats
Entrepreneurs Cognitive
Processes (Palich & Bagby 1995)
• “What each man wishes, that he also
believes to be true” - Demonsthenes
• Entrepreneurs categorise situations as
having strengths and opportunities, because
the positive attributes, are more salient to
Components of Critical
1. A set of skills to process and generate
information and beliefs, and
2. The habit, based on intellectual commitment, of
using those skills to guide behaviour
It is contrasted with the mere acquisition and
retention of information alone, (because it
involves a particular way in which information is
sought and treated)
Core Critical Thinking Skills
Source: Facione, P. A (1998)
Attributes Of A Critical
Thinker Ferrett 1997
Asks pertinent questions
Can/does admit a lack of understanding or information
Has a sense of curiosity
Is interested to find new solutions
Is willing to examine beliefs, assumptions, and opinions
and weigh them against facts
• Listens carefully to others and can provide feedback
• Seeks evidence to support assumptions and beliefs
• Can/does adjust opinions when new facts are found
Hemispheres of the brain
Ornstein 1896
The left side handles language, logic and
• Information processing; step by step
• Systematic thinking
The right side takes care of the body's
emotional, intuitive and spatial functions.
• Information processing; intuitive
• Unsystematic thinking
Right brain thinking
Lewis 1987
ask if there is a better way of doing things;
challenge custom, routine and tradition;
be reflective – often deep in thought;
play mental games, trying to see an issue from a different
realise that there may be more than one “right” answer;
see mistakes and failures as pitstops on the route to
relate seemingly unrelated ideas to a problem to generate a
solution; and
see an issue from a broader perspective, but have the
ability to focus on an area in need of change.
Critical and Creative thinking
Kirby 2004
Entrepreneurial skills
communication skills, especially persuasion;
creativity skills;
critical thinking and assessment skills;
leadership skills;
negotiation skills;
problem-solving skills;
social networking skills; and
time-management skills.
Deakins, D and Freel, M. 2009. Entrepreneurship and Small Firms. 5th Edition, McGraw
Kuratko, D, & Hodgetts, M 1995 Entrepreneurship: Theory, Process and Practice Thomson
Burns, P 2007 Entrepreneurship and Small Firms 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan
CHELL, E 2008 The entrepreneurial personality: a social construction
HULL, D., BOSLEY, J., UDELL, G 1980 Renewing the hunt for the heffalump: identifying
potential entrepreneurs by personality characteristics, Journal of Small Business, 18: 11–18.
McCELLAND, D. C. 1965 Achievement motivation can be developed, Harvard Business
Review, 43: 6–24, 178.
PALICH, L. E. and BAGBY, D. R. (1995) Using cognitive theory to explain entrepreneurial
risk-taking – challenging conventional wisdom, Journal of Business Venturing, 10: 425–438.
TIMMONS, J. A., SMOLLEN, L. E. and DINGEE, A. L. M. (1985) New Venture Creation,
(2nd ed.), Homewood, IL: Irwin.
ZHANG, Z, ZYPHUR, M, NARAYANAN, J 2009 The genetic basis of
entrepreneurship:effects of gender and personality. Organizational Behavior and Human
decision processes110 pp93-107
ZHAO, H, SEIBERT, S., LUMPKIN, G 2010 The relationship of personality to
entrepreneurial intentions and performance: A meta analytic review Journal of Management
36(2) pp381-404
KAPLAN, J 2009 Patterns of entrepreneurship. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Wiley & Sons
Bygrave, W & Zacharakis A, 2010 The portable MBA in Entrepreneurship.
Timmons, J & Spinelli, S 2008 New venture creation: Entrepreneurship for
the 21st Century
STOREY, D & GREENE, F 2010 Small business and entrepreneurship
Prentice Hall
CROMBIE, I., 1996 The Pocket Guide to Critical Appraisal.London: PMJ
Publishing Group
VAN DEN BRINK-BUDGEN,R., 2000 Critical Thinking for Students. Oxfor
COTTRELL, S., 2005 Critical Thinking Skills Basingstoke:Palgrave Lewis, D.
(1987), Mind Skills: Giving Your Child a Brighter Future, Souvenir Press,
Ornstein, R. (1986), The Psychology of Consciousness, Penguin,
David A. Kirby, (2004) "Entrepreneurship education: can business schools
meet the challenge?", Education + Training, Vol. 46 (8/9), pp.510 – 519
Ferrett, S. (1997) Peak Performance
CHELL, E (2008) The entrepreneurial personality; a social construction. 2nd
ed. Routledge
Online test of entrepreneurship
Online test of right/ left brain
STEFFENS, P., DAVIDSSON, P, FITZSIMMONS, J 2009 performance configurations over
time: implications for growth and profit oriented strategies Entrepreneurship Theory and
Practice January pp125-148
FRANK, H., LUEGER, M., KORUNKA, C 2007 The significance of personality in business
start up intentions, start up realization and business success Entrepreneurship & Regional
development 19 May pp227-251
KOR, Y., MAHONEY, J., MICHAEL, S 2007 Resources, capabilities and entrepreneurial
perceptions Journal of Management Studies November pp1187-1212
LUCHSINGER, V., BAGBY, D 1987 Entrepreneuship and Intrapreneurship: Behaviors,
comparisons and contrasts SAM Advanced Management Journal. Summer pp10-13
BIRLEY, S. and WESTHEAD, P. (1993) A comparison of new businesses established by
“novice” and “habitual” founders in Great Britain, International Small Business Journal, 12:
SMITH, N. R. (1967) The Entrepreneur and His Firm: The Relationship Between Type of
Man and Type of Company, East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press
ROTTER, J. B. (1966) Generalised expectancies for internal versus external control of
reinforcement, Psychological Monographs, Whole No. 609, 80: 1–28.
SSCHERE, J. C. (1982) Tolerance of ambiguity as a discriminating variable between
entrepreneurs and managers, Academy of Management Proceedings, 45: 404–408.
DELMAR, F., DAVIDSSON, P. 2000 Where do they come from? Prevalence and
characteristics of nascent entrepreneurs Entrepreneurship and Regional Development1 21–23.
WESTHEAD, P., WRIGHT., W, MCELWEE, G 2011 Entrepreneurship; perspectives and
cases. Harlow: Prentice Hall