Study: Spotlight shines bright – perhaps too bright – on entrepreneurs

Every year, thousands of motivated entrepreneurs launch new businesses. While led by determined and ambitious individuals, half won’t make it past the fourth year.

Yet fail or succeed, these same entrepreneurs and founders still receive high praise when it comes to news coverage. It is a skewed perception that should remind future entrepreneurs to look beyond headlines when setting expectations about their careers, Western researchers say.

For the study, the Western research team used machine-learning to analyze close to 500,000 New York Times (1999-2014) and 300,000 Financial Times (2003-14) articles containing the words “entrepreneur” and “founder” when related to careers in new ventures, as well as the words “manager” and “executive” when looking at established organizations.

Coverage from the New York Times (81 per cent) and Financial Times (74 per cent) was overwhelmingly positive when referencing entrepreneurs and founders, compared to just 53 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively, for executives and managers.

A parallel analysis of companies like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google was also compared to a to a set of older and more established Fortune 500 companies. Both produced similar results, showing overwhelmingly positive response for entrepreneurs.

The study was conducted by Ivey Business School professors Simon Parker and Rod White, Languages and Cultures professor Juan Luis Suárez, and Cultureplex Lab postdoctoral scholar Antonio Jiménez-Mavillard.

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