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Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders

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Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders

How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

People like to think that they get ahead due to hard work – but genes play a notable role.

Editorial Rating



  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening


Have you been able to move ahead in life because of your efforts and determination? Certainly, your strong character and hard work helped get you where you are today. But your genetic heritage also played a significant role in your workplace accomplishments. It did not directly cause your life’s path, but it influenced your behavior, your choices and the success you have realized. With a different genetic makeup, you might have ended up in another job or lifestyle. The science of this is irrefutable; someone lucky in the genetic lottery has a much better chance to do well. Economist Scott Shane explains all this in his iconoclastic report on genes and their indirect effects on workplace success. Though it is not an easy read, given its somewhat stilted syntax, getAbstract suggests this unsettling, yet eye-opening, book to anyone who really wants to know what makes people tick.


Your Genes Help Determine Your Success

Genes affect everything about you, including intelligence and personality. This means your professional accomplishments do not depend solely on how hard you work, or on your education, training or expertise. Some of your professional results are due to your genetic makeup. Your success depends on your capabilities, temperament and behavior, which correlate with your DNA. While genes do not directly cause behavior, they do influence it.

Business writers seldom report about these scientifically verifiable findings. The fact that your genetics can profoundly affect your career – and thus your subsequent success or failure – does not fit with the prevailing philosophy that “free will and self-made behavior” are the primary reasons people succeed. Most folks easily accept that genetics determine hair color, height, eye color and so on. But they do not like to think that their genes play a role in their behavior or their attainment of status and goals. Nevertheless, genes affect work behavior, which in turn affects whether people do well in life.

Environmental factors – that is, “everything other than one’s genes” – also strongly...

About the Author

Scott Shane is a professor of economics and entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of more than 60 scholarly articles on entrepreneurship and innovation management, and the author or editor of eight other books.

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