• entrepreneurs;
  • fatherlessness;
  • independence;
  • Leonardo da Vinci


In depth investigation of male entrepreneurs shows a consistent finding: a large proportion of male entrepreneurs tend to experience their fathers as weak, inefficient, abusive, or absent. “Fatherlessness,” as we call this constellation, is, of course, not of itself either a necessary or sufficient condition for entrepreneurship, and even less for successful entrepreneurship. The present paper tries to identify the psychodynamic constellation that allows some entrepreneurs to psychologically deal with the experience of fatherlessness and to transform it into an asset. We do so using Freud's hypothesis that Leonardo da Vinci's extreme independence of mind was one of the predisposing factors to his extreme inquisitiveness and creativity. This model needs to be combined with the insight that fatherlessness isper seharmful. Through detailed case studies it is shown how only those who truly come to terms with fatherlessness can become successful entrepreneurs, whereas those who remain fixated to the rage and disappointment generated by fatherlessness are bound to become what we call self- destroyers out of unconscious guilt or grandiose dreamers. The paper concludes with some practical advice on how to identify the various types. Copyright © 2005 Whurr Publishers Ltd.