Tobias Ebert, Friedrich Götz, Martin Obschonka, Leor Zmigrod, Peter Jason Rentfrow
Regional Variation in Courage and Entrepreneurship: The Contrasting Role of Courage for the Emergence and Survival of Start‐Ups in the US

Journal of Personality, 2019: 87, issue 5, pp. 1039-1055
ISSN: 0022-3506 (print); 1467-6494 (online)

Objective There is growing evidence that certain regional personality differences function as important drivers of regional economic development (e.g. via effects on entrepreneurship and innovation activity). The present investigation examines the impact that regional variation in the trait courage has on entrepreneurship. Method Using data from a new large‐scale internet‐based study, we provide the first psychological map of courage across the US (N = 390,341 respondents from 283 US metropolitan regions). We apply regression analyses to relate regional courage scores to archival data on the emergence and survival of start‐ups across American regions. Results Our mapping approach reveals comparatively high levels of regional courage in the Eastern and Southern regions of the US. Regional courage scores were positively related to entrepreneurial activity, but negatively related to start‐up survival ‐ even when controlling for a wide variety of standard economic predictors. Several robustness checks corroborated these results. Finally, regional differences in economic risk‐taking accounted for significant proportions of variance in the relationship between regional courage and entrepreneurship. Conclusion Our results suggest that regional courage may contribute to a pattern of enterprising but also risky economic behavior, which can lead to high levels of entrepreneurial activity but also shorter start‐up survival.