n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - Self-employment and the required skills

Volume 14, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1019-567X



Unemployment in South Africa increased by around two percentage points between 1999 and 2004 and for this reason job creation is critical in South Africa (Statistics South Africa). Against this background self-employment is regarded as one of the driving forces of economic growth in transitional countries. South Africa urgently needs to create jobs, and cannot afford to have a high failure rate among the self-employed, as this category of worker often creates job opportunities for others as well. Many researchers are of the opinion that growth-oriented firms are truly entrepreneurial, and that they differ in important respects from small firms in general. Many of the characteristics normally associated with entrepreneurs (inter alia, internal locus of control, risk taking, creativity, self-confidence, a need for independence, commitment, and high energy levels) have also been found to be prevalent among successful managers. However, entrepreneurs possess higher levels of growth-oriented traits than do managers in general. Growth must be carefully planned for, and it is a decision made by some to pursue vigorously, by others to pursue slowly, and by yet others to avoid. Firms directed by entrepreneurs are generally committed to growth as a fundamental strategic aim. The focus in this study is on skills that can contribute to growth, job creation, and entrepreneurship. <br>In a comparison of self-employed graduates with a growth orientation to those who do not intend to grow their firms, it was observed that those who had planned growth had also acquired certain skills to a greater extent than those that did not plan to grow their firms. Important skills to have in self-employment were identified as technical skills, perseverance, communication skills, managerial skills, leadership, innovation, pro-activity, financial skills, and information-seeking skills. All the listed skills were more prevalent among those who had the intention to grow their firms than those who did not have this intention, with the exception of technical skills.

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