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Measuring Disruptive Innovation Potential

20 November 2019

Unlocking South African Youth Potential with META-DT Assessments. Explore results, group differences, and relationships between disruptive talent and entrepreneurial success.


A foundation in South Africa has a youth entrepreneurship initiative that is focused around providing opportunities to young South Africans to develop the skills and mindset needed to become accountable and high impact entrepreneurs.Students were being assessed in various stages of the programme in terms of their entrepreneurial potential. Data were collected to investigate the Measure of Entrepreneurial Talents and Abilities –Disruptive Talent (META -DT) and its validity in the South African context.



375 individuals completed the META–DT that measures successful business innovation potential (by applying disruptive methods) and a bespoke entrepreneurial survey that providedinformation regarding, for example, entrepreneurial intent, work values, and the candidate’s businesses. The participants that completed the assessments were all part of the entrepreneurship initiative programme. The data wasused to explore how the META-DT performs when different groups are compared and to determine the relationship between data from theentrepreneurial survey and META-DT.



The results contribute to the applicability and validity of the assessments used.


Group differences: Participants who started their own businesseswere compared to individuals who didn’t start their own business and were not thinking of doing so. The latter of these two groups scored significantly lower on most of the META-DT facets, indicating a lower potential for disruptive innovation than more than half of the individuals who have started their own businesses. Individuals who started businesses that were still trading (after two years) scored higher on the META-DT scales overall, compared to the individuals with businesses that were no longer trading, except on some of the‘derailer’ facets that measure dominance and unpredictability. This shows that the individuals with the ‘still-trading’ businesses showed higher disruptive innovation potential than those with ‘no-longer-trading’ businesses and they were less likely to behave controlling and impulsively or unpredictably. Individuals who were most likely to start a business in one year showed a similar trend when compared to individuals likely to start a business in five years. The findings confirm that individuals with higher entrepreneurial and innovation potential do not only have an increased potential to start a business, but also to let the business persist and grow.


Furthermore, individuals who indicated some level of ownership were compared to individuals who were employees or did not own a business. The ownership individuals are often responsible for driving business innovation and consequently had higher scoreson several scales. Interestingly, they had a higher propensity to act with convictionand were more likelyto be energetic, confident, and to successfully conclude projects. They were also more likely to see the bigger picture, make progress by adapting their own efforts, and have the ability to generate novel ideas and experiences.


Relationships: Several small significant relationships were also seen between the disruptive talent behavioural traits and work values. For example, individuals whoare able to create new ideas are moderately related to taking initiative. A lot of significant relationships, varying from small to medium in size,were also found between the disruptive talent scores and entrepreneurial intent items, most of them positive. This could be interpreted that the higher individuals’ entrepreneurial and disruptive innovation potential, the higher their entrepreneurial intent. Individuals’ ability to spot future business opportunities and trends provided the most consistent relationships with entrepreneurial intent items that asked about identifying opportunities, challenges, and support options. These results, therefore, emphasise that certain personal characteristics and roles mean greater entrepreneurial and disruptive innovative potential of individuals that can drive business innovation and development. As such, higher scorers can promote economic growth and development and it will be advantageous to organisations and society in general, to develop and retain such individuals.


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