Business success and psychological traits of housing developers

Mastura Jaafar
Azlan Raofuddin Nuruddin
Syed Putra Syed Abu Bakar


Although the issues on entrepreneurship in the real estate industry are disparaging and have received little interest from global researchers, the significant roles played by the industry players warrant further investigation. The personal traits of the owners/managers are deemed to be the key factors to the business success of housing development firms. This paper examined the main determinants of successful business in the housing development sector under the lens of psychological traits of the owners/managers. To identify the success factors of housing development firms, interviews were conducted on 10 housing developers in Peninsular Malaysia. The study shows the significant psychological traits that distinguish the business success of housing developers compared with those in the existing literature. These factors are (1) high confidence and ambition, (2) vision and foresight, (3) industriousness, (4) perseverance and (5) integrity. As housing development is a risky industry, developers can use these findings as a guideline in managing their business toward superior performance.


Business success, psychological traits and housing developers

Full Text:



Abdul-Aziz, A.R. and Ho, S.Y. (2006) An analysis of competitiveness of housing developers in Malaysia, [online] Available at: [May 31, 2011]

Abdul-Aziz, A.R., Ho, S.Y. and Jaafar, M. (2006) 'Competitive resources of private housing developers: the Malaysian perspective', Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, 4 (1), 71-80.

Abdul-Aziz, A.R., Ho, S.Y. and Jaafar, M. (2007) 'Impact of firm characteristics on the value of resources for Malaysian private housing developers', Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction, 12 (2), 95-105.

Achleitner, A.-K., Lutz, E., Mayer, J. and Spiess-Kna?, W. (2013) 'Disentangling gut feeling: assessing the integrity of social entrepreneurs', Voluntas, 24, 93-124.

Adair, J. (1988) Not Bosses but Leaders, Kogan Page, London.

Ahmad, M. and Abdul-Kadir, S. (2013) 'Characteristics of entrepreneurs and the practice of Islamic values in influencing the success of small medium enterprises in Kelantan and Selangor', Journal of Social and Development Sciences, 4 (5), 229-35.

Ahmad, N.H., Ramayah, T., Wilson, C. and Kummerow, L. (2010) 'Is entrepreneurial competency and business success relationship contingent upon business environment?: a study of Malaysian SMEs', International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 16 (3), 182-203.

Agus, M.R. (1997) 'Historical perspective on housing development', Mohd-Don A. (ed.), Housing the Nation: A Definitive Study, Cagamas Berhad, Kuala Lumpur, 29-69.

Aminul-Islam, M., Khan, M.A., Muhammad-Obaidullah, A.Z. and Syed-Alam, M. (2011) 'Effect of entrepreneur and firm characteristics on the business success of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh', International Journal of Business and Management, 6 (3), 289-99.

Arslan, G. and Kivrak, S. (2008) 'Critical factors to company success in the construction industry', World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, 45, 43-46.

Bandura, A. (1997) Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, Freeman, NY.

Bass, B.M. (1990) Bass and Stogdill's Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications, 3rd Edition, The Free Press, NY.

Baum, J.R. and Locke, E.A. (2004) 'The relationship of entrepreneurial traits, skill, and motivation to subsequent venture growth', Journal of Applied Psychology, 89 (4), 587-98.

Baum, I.R., Locke, E.A. and Kirkpatrick, S.A. (1998) 'A longitudinal study of the relation of vision and vision communication to venture growth in entrepreneurial firms', Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 43-54.

Benabou, R. and Tirole, J. (2002) 'Self-confidence and personal motivation', The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117 (3 ), 871-915.

Birdthistle, N., Rozell, E.J., Scroggins, W.A., Guo, A. and Fuentes, J.L. (2010) 'Cultural prototypes of the successful entrepreneur: a cross-cultural comparison of Ireland, Guatemala, and China', Small Business Institute Journal, 5, 1-37.

Bryman, A. (1996) 'Leadership in organizations', Clegg, S.R., Hardy, C. and Nord W.R. (eds.), Handbook of Organization Studies, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, 276-92.

Chiste, K.B. (1996) Aboriginal Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Canada, Captus Press, North York, ON.

Collins, J.C. and Porras, J.I. (1991) 'Organizational vision and visionary organizations', California Management Review, 34 (1), 30-52.

Cooper, A.C., Woo, C.Y. and Dunkelberg, W.C. (1988) 'Entrepreneurs' perceived chances for success', Journal of Business Venturing, 3, 97-108.

Cromie, S. (2000) 'Assessing entrepreneurial inclinations: some approaches and empirical evidence', European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 9 (1), 7-30.

Daft, R.L. and Lane, P.G. (2008) The Leadership Experience, 4th Edition, Thomson Learning, Mason, OH.

Den Hartog, D.N., House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Ruiz-Quinanallia, S.A. and Dorfman, P.W. (1999) 'Culturally specific and cross culturally generalizable implicit leadership theories: are attributes of charismatic/transformational leadership universally endorsed?', The Leadership Quarterly, 10, 219-56.

Drewett, R. (1973) 'The developers: decision processes and land values and the suburban land market', Hall, P., Gracey, H., Drewett, R. and Thomas, R. (eds.), The Containment of Urban England, Volume II. The planning System: Objectives, Operations, Impacts, Allen & Unwin, London, 163-94.

Duchesneau, D.A. and Gartner, W.B. (1990) 'A profile of new venture success and failure in an emerging industry', Journal of Business Venturing, 5 (5), 297-312.

Eisenbach, R., Watson, K. and Pillai, R. (1999) 'Transformational leadership in the context of organizational change', Journal of Organizational Change Management, 12 (2), 80-89.

Ezeanya, A.C. (2004) 'Malaysian housing policy: Prospects and obstacles of national vision 2020', Proceedings of International Conference on Adequate and Affordable Housing for All: Research, Policy, Practice 2004, 24-27 June, Ontario.

Fine, S., Meng, H., Feldman, G. and Nevo, B. (2012) 'Psychological predictors of successful entrepreneurship in China: an empirical study', International Journal of Management, 29 (1) 279-92.

Finkelstein, S. and Hambrick, D.C. (1996) Strategic Leadership: Top Executives and Their Effects on Organizations, West Publishing, St Paul, MN.

Gibb, K. and Hoesli, M. (2003) 'Developments in urban housing and property markets', Urban Studies, 40 (5-6), 887-96.

Glancey, K., Greig, M. and Pettigrew, M. (1998) 'Entrepreneurial dynamics in small business service firms', International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 4 (3), 249-68.

Gomelsky, N., Simmons-Cohen, D. and Czamansky, D. (1995) Entrepreneurial Theory and Practice: Immigrant Opportunities, The Neaman Institute, Haifa.

Gundry, L.K. and Harold, P.W. (2001) 'The ambitious entrepreneur: high growth strategies of women-owned businesses', Journal of Business Venturing, 16, 453-70.

Gupta, V., MacMillan, I.C. and Surie, G. (2004) 'Entrepreneurial leadership: developing and measuring a cross-cultural construct', Journal of Business Venturing, 19 (2), 241-60.

Hayward, M.L.A., Shepherd, D.A. and Griffin, D.W. (2006) 'A hubris theory of entrepreneurship', Management Science, 52, 160-72.

Hicks, S.R.C. (2009) 'What business ethics can learn from entrepreneurship', The Journal of Private Enterprise, 24 (2), 49-57.

Hind, P., Wilson, A. and Lenssen, G. (2009) 'Developing leaders for sustainable business', Corporate Governance, 9 (1), 7-20.

Hornaday, J.A. and Aboud, J. (1971) 'Characteristics of successful entrepreneurs', Personnel Psychology, 24 (2), 141-53.

Hui, S.K.F., Csete, J. and Raftery, J. (2006) 'Factors involved in the success of Hong Kong construction and property entrepreneurs', International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 12 (4), 228-45.

Hutchings, M.D. and Christofferson, J.P. (2005) 'Factors leading to construction company success: perceptions of small-volume residential contractors', International Journal of Construction Education and Research, 1 (2), 102-11.

Ibrahim, A.B. and Soufani, K. (2002) 'Entrepreneurship education and training in Canada: a critical assessment', Education and Training, 44 (8/9), 421-30.

Irjayanti, M. and Azis, A.M. (2013) 'Success factors of fast moving goods of small medium enterprises in Indonesia', Journal of Global Entrepreneurship, 4 (1), 17-30.

Jaafar, M., Abdul-Aziz, A.R. and Ali, R. (2009) 'Entrepreneurial characteristics of indigenous housing developers: the case of Malaysia', Economia. Seria Management, 12 (2), 73-91.

Jaafar, M., Ramayah, T. and Mohamed, O. (2004) 'Owner/manager characteristics and business performance: a study among Malaysian contractors', Proceedings of the 18th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management, 8-11 December, Dunedin.

Kirkpatrick, S.A. and Locke, E.A. (1991) 'Leadership: do traits matter?', Academy of Management Executive, 5 (2), 48-60.

Kunene, T.R. (2008) 'A critical analysis of entrepreneurial and business skills in SMEs in the textile and clothing industry in Johannesburg, South Africa', PhD thesis, University of Pretoria.

Knight, F.H. (1921) Risk, Uncertainty and Profit, Houghton Miffin, NY.

Lam, S.K.S. (1996) 'A study of the personal characteristics of Hong Kong successful entrepreneurs and high-flyers', PhD dissertation, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

Locke, E.A. (2000) The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators, AMACOM, NY.

Lussier, R.N. and Pfeifer, S. (2001) 'A crossnational prediction model for business success', Journal of Small Business Management, 39 (3), 228-39.

Marc, A.L. and Brian, T.M. (2002) 'Managing risk in apartment development', Briefings in Real Estate Finance, 2 (3), 203-209.

Markman, G.D. and Baron, R.A. (2003) 'Person-entrepreneurship fit: why some people are more successful as entrepreneurs than others', Human Resource Management Review, 13 (2), 281-301.

Markman, G.D., Baron, R.A. and Balkin, D.B. (2002) 'Adversity quotient: perceived perseverance and new venture formation', Paper presented at the Lenox-Darden Junior Faculty Retreat for Entrepreneurship Research, Washington, DC.

McClelland, D.C. (1961) The Achieving Society, D. Van Nostrand Co., Princeton, NJ.

McKelvey, B. and Boisot, M. (2008) 'Redefining strategic foresight: 'fast' and 'far' sight via complexity science', Costanzo, L.A. and MacKay, R. B. (eds.), Handbook of Research on Strategy and Foresight, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 15-47.

McManus, T. and Delaney, D. (2007) 'Dave Delaney's useful advice for your development as a manager', Journal of Management Development, 26 (5), 468-74.

Mehta, A. (2011) 'Critical success characteristics of entrepreneurs for the successful entrepreneurship at Indian SMEs', Human Resource Management, 39, 4729-39.

Munikrishnan, U.T. and Veerakumaran, B. (2012) 'A survey on business success factors influencing budget hotels in Klang Valley', Journal of Global Entrepreneurship, 2 (1), 21-35.

Nadkarni, S. and Herrmann, P. (2010) 'CEO performance, strategic flexibility, and firm performance: the case of the Indian business process outsourcing industry', Academy of Management Journal, 53 (5), 1050-73.

Nasser, M.E., du Preez, J. and Herrmann, K. (2003) 'Flight of the young flamingoes: alternative futures for young entrepreneurs in South Africa', Futures, 35 (4), 393-401.

Nicolaou, N., Shane, S., Cherkas, L., Hunkin, J. and Spector, T.D. (2008) 'Is the tendency to engage in entrepreneurship genetic?', Management Science, 54 (1), 167-79.

Okoye, K.R.E. and Eze, T.I. (2010). 'Promoting creativity and entrepreneurship in education: the panacea for poverty reduction in Nigeria', African Research Review, 4 (3a), 119-33.

Olakitan, O.O., & Ayobami, A.P. (2011) 'An investigation of personality on entrepreneurial success', Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences, 2 (2), 95-103.

Ones, D.S., Viswesvaran, C. and Schmidt, F.L. (1993) 'Comprehensive meta-analysis of integrity test validities: Findings and implications for personnel selection and theories of job performance', Journal of Applied Psychology (Monograph), 78, 679-703.

Patton, M.Q. (2002) Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, 3rd Edition, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Penrose, E.T. (1959) The Theory of the Growth of the Firm, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Robichaud, Y., Cachon, J. and Haq, R. (2010). 'Motives, success factors, and barriers among Canadian female entrepreneurs: the case of Greater Sudbury', Entrepreneurial Practice Review, 1 (2), 36-65.

Rogoff, E.G., Lee, M. and Suh, D. (2004) 'Who done it?" attributions by entrepreneurs and experts of the factors that cause and impede small business success', Journal of Small Business Management, 42 (4), 364-76."

Rose, R.C., Kumar, N. and Lim, L.Y. (2006) 'The dynamics of entrepreneurs' success factors in influencing venture growth', Journal of Asia Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, 2 (3), 1-19.

Rotter, J.B. (1966) 'Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement', Psychological Monographs, 80 (1), 1-28.

Ruvio, A., Rosenblatt, Z. and Hertz-Lazarowitz, R. (2010) 'Entrepreneurial leadership vision in nonpro?t vs. for-pro?t organizations', The Leadership Quarterly, 21, 144-58.

Sambasivan, M., Abdul, M. and Yusop, Y. (2009) 'Impact of personal qualities and management skills of entrepreneurs on venture performance in Malaysia: opportunity recognition skills as a mediating factor', Technovation, 29 (11), 798-805.

Santarelli, E. and Vivarelli, M. (2007) 'Entrepreneurship and the process of firms' entry, survival and growth', Industrial and Corporate Change, 16 (3), 455-88.

Schumpeter, J.A. (1934) The Theory of Economic Development, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Shamir, B., House, R.J. and Arthur, M.B. (1993) 'The motivational effects of charismatic leadership: a self-concept based theory', Organization Science, 4, 1-17.

Simons, T. (2008) The Integrity Dividend: Leading by Power of your Word, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Thorpe, D., Ryan, N. and Charles, M.B. (2009) 'Innovation and small residential builders: an Australian study', Construction Innovation, 9 (2), 184-200.

Timmons, J.A. (1978) 'Characteristics and role demands of entrepreneurship', American Journal of Small Business, 3 (1), 5-17.

Timmons, J.A. (2000) New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century, 5th Edition, Irwin, Homewood, IL.

Van Eeden, S., Louw, L. and Venter, D. (2005) 'Entrepreneurial traits of undergraduate commerce students: a three-country comparison', Management Dynamics, 14 (3), 26-43.

Wan-Mohd-Dzulkifli, M.A. (2009) Panduan dan Prosedur Asas Cadangan Pembangunan Projek Perumahan, Penerbit USM, Penang.

Wasilczuk, J. (2000) 'Advantageous competence of owner/managers to grow the firm in Poland: empirical evidence', Journal of Small Business Management, 38 (2), 88-94.

Wofford, L.E., Troilo, M.L. and Dorchester, A.D. (2010) 'Managing cognitive risk in real estate', Journal of Property Research, 27 (3), 269-87.

Woolley, S., Morris, K., Melcher, R.A. and Anderson, S. (1997) 'The new world of real estate; its titans are quickly turning a private industry public as they amass vast empires', Business Week, 22 September, 78-84.

Yukl, G. and Van Fleet, D.D. (1992) 'Theory and research on leadership in organizations', Dunnette, M. and Hough, L.M. (eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology, 2nd Edition, Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA, 147-97.

Yusof, N.A., Sibly, S. and Osman, Z. (2012) 'Are housing developers ready for innovation? the case for a new housing delivery system in Malaysia', International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, 9 (6), 1-16.

Yusuf, A. (1995) 'Critical success factors for small business: perceptions of South Pacific entrepreneurs', Journal of Small Business Management, 33 (2), 68-73.

Zainol, H. and Abdul-Aziz, A.R. (1999) 'Pemaju perumahan Bumiputera di Malaysia: satu analisis', The Malaysian Surveyor, 34 (4), 20-26.

Zhao, H., Seibert, S.E. and Hills, G.E. (2005) 'The mediating role of self-efficacy in the development of entrepreneurial intentions', Journal of Applied Psychology, 90 (6), 1265-72.