Developing a dynamic SME sector is essential for countries transforming their centrally planned economy into a market oriented one. New firm formation is the major driver of this transition. Obviously, entrepreneurial energy is a necessary condition for new firm formation. This paper uses 2004 survey data from the 25 EU member states and the US to explain country differences in entrepreneurial energy. This energy is captured as latent and actual entrepreneurship. Latent entrepreneurship is measured by the probability of a declared preference for self-employment over employment. Next to demographic variables such as gender, age, education level and whether parents are self-employed, the set of explanatory variables used includes country specific effects, measures of risk tolerance, internal and external locus of control and four perceptions of obstacles . The obstacle variables include the perception by respondents of administrative complexities, of availability of financial support, of accessibility of information for start-up and whether the current economic climate is favorable. Specific attention is devoted to differences between the eight former communist member states and the 17 other EU member states. The most striking result is the higher influence of risk tolerance in shaping both latent and actual entrepreneurship in transition economies relative to market economies.

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EIM bv, Zoetermeer
Erasmus School of Economics