World

Entrepreneur Mindset More Common in U.S. Than in EU, China

by Anna Manchin

U.S. respondents more likely to prefer competition and taking risks than Europeans and Chinese

BRUSSELS -- Majorities in the U.S., the European Union, and China associate themselves with attitudes often ascribed to entrepreneurs. Americans, however, are more likely than those in the European Union and China to see themselves as risk takers, competitive, and confident they can accomplish difficult tasks.

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These findings are from a Flash Eurobarometer study in December 2009 that investigated attitudes toward entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs in the 27 European Union member states, the U.S., 50 Chinese cities, and a handful of other countries.

More than 8 in 10 Americans agree they are generally willing to take risks, compared with nearly 2 in 3 respondents in China and the European Union as a whole. Within Europe, however, opinions vary: Romanian, Cypriot, and Irish views align closest with those of Americans, with 73% each saying they are generally risk takers. Lithuanians and Hungarians are least likely to share this attitude; 46% and 43%, respectively, see themselves this way.

Respondents in the U.S. are also more likely than others to agree they like situations in which they compete with others. More than three-quarters of Americans agree (77%), in contrast with about a half of EU citizens (55%). Views in Ireland, China, Malta, and Luxembourg, where roughly 7 in 10 in each country agree, are closest to those in the U.S. Czechs and Hungarians are the least likely to say they like competitive situations; fewer than 4 in 10 in both countries see themselves this way.

Americans are almost universally confident that they can accomplish difficult tasks when faced with them. Ninety-six percent of Americans versus 81% of EU citizens agree. Danes and Chinese respondents are most like Americans in their responses.

Bottom Line

As a large, wealthy, and functional single market, the U.S. offers great advantages to entrepreneurs starting businesses there. It has long been a generally accepted notion that the U.S.'s competitive advantage in business is also, in some ways, related to a different cultural climate. Individuals living in the U.S. seem to have a more pervasive "entrepreneurial attitude" than people living in many European countries. Flash Eurobarometer surveys confirm that differences exist between Americans and Europeans in terms of certain beliefs and attitudes associated with entrepreneurship.

In terms of individual attitudes related to entrepreneurship, the U.S. seems to have a cultural advantage over the European Union. Americans think of themselves as risk takers, competitive, and able to accomplish difficult tasks. Further research is needed to understand how such attitudes are related to actual entrepreneurial activity, and how important attitudes are relative to other factors such as the desire to be self-employed, and practical considerations such as available capital and training, among other things.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

European Union results are based on interviews conducted Dec. 11-15, 2009, predominantly via telephone, but with some face-to-face interviews as a result of the low fixed-line telephone coverage in certain eastern European countries. Approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, were interviewed in Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. Approximately 500 adults, aged 15 and older, were interviewed in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Sweden. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

U.S. results are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Dec. 11-23, 2009. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

In China, interviews were conducted with 1,000 randomly selected individuals, aged 15 and older, Dec. 22, 2009, to Jan. 16, 2010, in 50 cities. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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