A polymorphism associated with entrepreneurship: evidence from dopamine receptor candidate genes

Research paper by Nicos Nicolaou, Scott Shane, Georgina Adi, Massimo Mangino, Juliette Harris

Indexed on: 16 Dec '10Published on: 16 Dec '10Published in: Small Business Economics


The tendency to be an entrepreneur may be influenced by genetic variation. Sensation seeking is more common among entrepreneurs than among the general population. Twin studies show that the tendency to be an entrepreneur is heritable and that common genes influence both sensation seeking and entrepreneurial tendency (Nicolaou et al. Manag Sci 54:167–179, 2008a; Strateg Entrep J 2:7–21, 2008b). Since dopamine receptor genes have been associated with novelty seeking/sensation seeking (Benjamin et al. Nat Genet 12:81–84, 1996; Ebstein et al. Nat Genet 12:78–80, 1996; Noblett and Coccaro Curr Psychiatry Rep 7:73–80, 2005), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been reported to occur at greater rates among entrepreneurs, we examined the association between five dopamine receptor genes and four ADHD-associated genes, with the tendency to be an entrepreneur in a sample of 1,335 individuals from the UK. We found a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs1486011) of the DRD3 gene on chromosome 3 to be significantly associated with the tendency to be an entrepreneur. This result is the first evidence of the association of a specific gene with entrepreneurship. Further studies are needed to replicate this association.