As an attempt to explore the influence of external context on entrepreneurial competencies, we conducted a comparative analysis using a sample of 16 home-grown and abroad-bred entrepreneurs in China. Through a content analysis of the critical incidents during their business development, we found that both groups demonstrated a similar set of entrepreneurial competencies, with strategic, relationship, conceptual, organizing and opportunity competencies being the most predominant types. However, the orders of relationship and organizing competencies between the two groups were different due to the different behavioural elements, attributes, skills and knowledge domains constituting them. We concluded that the context is a critical yet complex dimension of entrepreneurial competencies, as the early context from which the entrepreneurs grow up has significant impacts on the formation of some competencies, whereas the current context in which they operate their businesses will determine their uses and will shape the development of other competencies. Copyright © 2008 World Scientific Publishing.