On the Sources of Entrepreneurial Talent in Italy

Daniela Federici, Francesco Ferrante, Domenico Vistocco


There is wide consensus that entrepreneurial talent lies in the ability to discover and exploit market opportunities by taking the relevant risky decisions. By determining the nature of the discovery and exploitation processes, institutions and technology play an essential role in shaping entrepreneurial opportunities and the nature of entrepreneurial talent.

Building on these premises, the aim of our research work is to investigate the sources of entrepreneurial talent in Italy. In addition to the standard controls, various indices of occupational opportunities are used in order to determine how tacit and codified knowledge determine the returns on different occupational choices in different environments.

The data are drawn from the Italian Survey of Household Income and Wealth (SHIW), a large-scale household survey conducted biannually by the Bank of Italy. The original data-set has been integrated with a wide variety of environmental variables drawn from different data sources describing the social, technological and institutional context of the entrepreneurial activity.

Our empirical analysis supports the conclusion that the choice to become an entrepreneur in Italy is strongly and positively affected by a privileged access to tacit knowledge, thus confirming previous analyses on the role of social learning (e.g. Guiso and Schivardi, 2005). On the other hand, we show that the returns on codified knowledge in entrepreneurial activities increase in more creative environments. Indeed, a further aim of the paper is, hopefully, to offer more general insights into the nature of technological opportunities and talent which go beyond the Italian case.