How entrepreneurial intentions influence entrepreneurial career choices: The moderating influence of social context


Author Information : Azzurra Meoli (University of Bologna)
Riccardo Fini (University of Bologna)
Maurizio Sobrero (University of Bologna)
Johan Wiklund (Syracuse University)

Year of Publication : Journal of Business Venturing 2019

Summary of Findings : Results show that context plays an important role in explaining why people do or do not act on their intentions. Relevant others and organizational influences enhance individuals’ likelihood of creating a new venture, whereas environmental influences may inhibit new venture creation. These results are more pronounced for higher level of intentions vis-à-vis lower ones.

What we know : The creation of a new venture is often viewed as an intentional, planned behavior (e.g., Krueger, 1993; Krueger et al., 2000) and entrepreneurial intentions have therefore received extensive attention in the entrepreneurship literature (e.g., Bird, 1988; Kolvereid, 1996; Krueger, 1993; Krueger et al., 2000). Studies that examined the relationship between entrepreneurial intention and behavior suggest that entrepreneurial intentions constitute a necessary condition for new venture creation, but not a sufficient one: other contextual factors influence the extent to which entrepreneurial intentions translate into new venture creation.

Novel Findings : We expand and enrich the focus of entrepreneurial intentions and how they contribute to generating new ventures by leveraging SCCT to examine and model the role of contextual variables. In particular, we provide a consistent and parsimonious framework for examining how entrepreneurial intentions, together with contextual variables, influence venture creation and we expand the singular focus on individual intentions inherent in other intention models. Entrepreneurs are socially embedded (Aldrich and Ruef, 2006; Dahl and Sorenson, 2009); the context in which they operate influences outcomes (Aldrich and Zimmer, 1986). We need to disentangle the effect of such contextual influences to properly identify their roles and drivers, as we do in this paper.

Implications for Practice : With our study, we provide evidence that universities could be more efficient in the process of translating intentions into entrepreneurial career choices. Universities need to create favorable conditions for entrepreneurial processes as a possible criterion to anticipate graduates’ behaviors. Supporting interactions among graduates with entrepreneurial intentions, their peers who are engaged in entrepreneurship, and academic entrepreneurs may strengthen the venture creation process. Universities have to work more in this direction to boost their graduates’ entrepreneurial intentions, especially for those who may not have a relevant and supportive proximal environment.

Implications on Research: This study is the first study to use social cognitive career theory (SCCT) to predict new venture creation.

Abstract : In this paper, we build on social cognitive career theory to examine the relation between entrepreneurial intention and new venture creation (i.e., the entrepreneurial career choice). We model how contextual influences at different levels may favor or inhibit the translation of entrepreneurial intentions into new venture creation. Using unique longitudinal data from almost the entire population of Italian university graduates, we are able to assess how the immediate (i.e., the influence of relevant others) and larger context (i.e., organizational and environmental influences) affect new venture creation. Our research contributes to the emerging literature of the intention–behavior link in entrepreneurship.

Context plays an important role in explaining why people do or do not act on their intentions to create new ventures.

Johan Wiklund

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