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The right “characters” to innovate

Some research focuses on the relations between entrepreneurial characters and the degree of innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises in the South of Italy

To innovate, you need people who are not only capable of innovating, but who want to. This assumption only appears to be banal. In actual fact, it isn’t always easy to find situations that are in any way close to this ideal. There could be a multitude of reasons why, and often objective ones. But understanding better the ties between the personality of the entrepreneur and the degree of innovation in the company is useful for a number of reasons.

An attempt was made by Alberto Marcati (Marketing Lecturer at the LUISS institute in Rome), Gianluigi Guido (Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Lecce), Alessandro M. Peluso (PhD student in Economic and Quantitative Methods for Market Analyses of the University of Lecce). The field of application of the investigation was the system of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the South of Italy. The result is not a very simple text to read, but its contents can be a good read for those who want to find out more about a sector of research into a complex and significant reality.

The basic idea behind the work by the three researchers is clear: “The tendency to innovate and the personality of entrepreneurs – they write – make up psychological parameters that affect the dissemination and the implementation of innovations, whether these are productive, organisational or market-based”.  This interpretation of reality is verified on the SMEs in the South of Italy. “Character” of the entrepreneur and degree of corporate innovation are seen as determining factors which “may represent a discriminating series to survive and develop in the current globalised competitive climate, which is increasingly focused on the strategic value of knowledge”.

The work then explores, on the one hand, the reality of a stratified sample of South Italian entrepreneurs, distinguished according to commodities sector, number of employees and turnover. Then the following are measured: the General Tendency for Innovation (Italian acronym TGI), in other words the degree of aperture towards novelty, and the Specific Tendency for Innovation (Italian acronym TSI), in other words the precocity with which an innovation is introduced in a specific domain. On the other hand, using a model, an attempt is made to understand the relationship between these tendencies and the prevailing features of the personality of the entrepreneurs and the incidence on the intention to implement the innovations by the same.

The results confirm the close relationship between the personality of the entrepreneur and the degree of corporate innovation, but they also put forward other avenues to investigate. So, the relationship between innovation and personality of “the boss” is not that simple. Other features are also at play. And most of all the relations between entrepreneur and innovation are not always this linear and unequivocal. The path to understanding better the profound sense of corporate culture is not always linear either.

Effetti della tendenza all’innovazione e della personalità degli imprenditori delle PMI meridionali sull’intenzione d’innovare: uno studio sperimentale (Effects of the tendency towards innovation and the personality of Southern Italian SME entrepreneurs on the intention to innovate: an experimental study)

Alberto Marcati, Gianluigi Guido, Alessandro M. Peluso

Rivista Economica del Mezzogiorno, 2016