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A Religious Profile of American Entrepreneurs


  • Acknowledgments: This research is part of the “National Study of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Religion” funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant #0925907). An earlier version of this research was presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Phoenix.

Correspondence should be addressed to Kevin D. Dougherty, Department of Sociology, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97326, Waco, TX 76798-7326, USA. E-mail:


The entrepreneur is a celebrated figure in American society. These innovative risk-takers hold an influential place in the economy and in popular culture. Substantial research has gone into identifying characteristics associated with these individuals, but research on entrepreneurs and religion is surprisingly sparse and inconsistent. Using national survey data, we examine religious affiliation, belief, and behavior for Americans who have started or are trying to start a business. American entrepreneurs appear no different than nonentrepreneurs in religious affiliation, belief in God, or religious service attendance. They do tend to see God as more personal, pray more frequently, and are more likely to attend a place of worship that encourages business activity. A discussion of implications concludes the research note.