I. Propositions Propositions of animal spirits are derived from literature. Due to a lack of clarity around animal spirits, the term has been used to describe three different things: inner drives, sentiments, and events of economic irrationality. Akerlof and Shiller laid the focus of their book Animal Spirits on responses, events of economic irrationality and sentiments. In contrast, this dissertation is based on Keynes' definition of animal spirits in the light of noneconomic motives and inner drives. The propositions strictly accord to the category of noneconomic motives. II. Testing the propositions Animal spirits have not been empirically tested before. In this dissertation the propositions are empirically tested on data of 20 entrepreneurs reporting on their ventures. Applying the qualitative content analysis, the noneconomic motives are analyzed and a list of seven animal spirits that drive entrepreneurial actions is established. III. Empirical evidence of 7 animal spirits The empirical data provide evidence of 7 animal spirits that drive entrepreneurs.
1. Independence - the drive for autonomy 2. Hunting - the drive to capture 3. Emulating - the drive for status 4. Competing - the drive to win 5. Bonding - the drive to belong 6. Curiosity - the drive to explore 7. Creating - the drive to build The drive for independence has not been proposed, however empirical evidence demanded it to be added to the list. Based on literature the animal spirit of defending was proposed, however it has not been found in any report of 20 entrepreneurs. Consequently it is not defined as an animal spirit that drives entrepreneurs. IV. Empirical evidence of patterns In different economic fields and industries entrepreneurs are driven by different patterns of animal spirits. Four groups are selected: Internet entrepreneurs, pioneer entrepreneurs, angel entrepreneurs and senior starters. For example, no angel investor is driven by the urge to create and exploration drive, but rather by a strong drive for independence in combination with the profit motive. Pioneer entrepreneurs, who are driven by a combination of the drive to create, the drive to bond and competition, created the most jobs. V. Animal spirits driving economic change Entrepreneurs have a fundamental function in the economy as they create new combinations, which displace old and obsolete structures. This creative destruction is central to the economic change process. The significant role of the entrepreneur cannot be explained with the profit motive and maximizing self-interest. The data provide evidence that the carrier of the economic change process, the entrepreneur, is also driven by noneconomic motives. Without the empirical evidence of animal spirits, neither creative destruction, nor the economic change process can be explained. Economic theory is incomplete without incorporating these drives.
Rather than arguing that the profit motive proposition is right and the animal spirits proposition is wrong, the dissertation takes a stance that they go hand in hand. Abandoning the argument that the profit motive is rational and noneconomic motives are irrational, this dissertation provides evidence that they coexist in entrepreneurs, as driving forces of economic change. From this evidence, much can be learned about what really drives entrepreneurs who conquer markets, explore new territories, create new combinations and destroy old structures. The dissertation provides empirical evidence that animal spirits are part of noneconomic motives driving entrepreneurs and that animal spirits coexist with profit motive and self-interest, as driving forces of economic change. VI. Alternative perspective An alternative view is presented, contrasting the negative image of animal spirits. On the macroeconomic level, economists are aware that economic actors are also driven by noneconomic motives, however, they focus on abnormal times, on crises and irrational exuberance. Policy makers blame animal spirits for causing bubbles and busts, for example the credit crisis of 2008. Animal spirits, as aberrations from economic rationality, from self-interest and profit motives have been doomed as demonic and destructive; that triggered a debate on inhibiting animal spirits. In contrast, this dissertation shines light on the positive and constructive forces of animal spirits arguing that economic change cannot be explained with economic motives alone. Unlike standard economic theory suggests, the profit motive by itself is not sufficient to overcome the great barriers that inhibit economic change. Noneconomic motives by themselves are not sufficient either. The data indicate that it requires a fusion of both forces, profit motive and animal spirits for progress in economic theory and a deeper understanding of what drives economic actors.