The impact of traits in entrepreneurship has been subject to intense discussion. Apart from favorable traits fostering opportunity recognition, entrepreneurial orientation, venture performance, and other variables, a younger research stream also addresses the role of negative traits. Among them, the dark triad, comprising of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, have gained specific attention. This systematic literature review aims to structure the field, identify current research themes, and provide a better understanding of prior research outcomes. Our results show that dark triad research addresses entrepreneurial activity, opportunity recognition, entrepreneurial orientation, entrepreneurial leadership, the and entrepreneurial motives. Among the dark triad traits, narcissism is stressed most in research so far. It relates to firm performance, risk, and leadership behavior, whereas Machiavellianism and psychopathy relate to opportunity recognition and exploitation. We also identify several research gaps, which can be addressed in future research.


Kraus, S., Traunmüller, V., Kailer, N., & Tiberius, V. (2020).
The dark triad in entrepreneurship research: a systematic literature review.
Journal of Enterprising Culture, 28(4), 353-373, doi:10.1142/S0218495820500156.