The Influence of Self-Efficacy on the Development of Entrepreneurial Intentions and Actions

Article excerpt

Entrepreneurship has been defined as "the creation of new enterprise" (Low & MacMillan, 1988, p. 141). This definition reflects a growing awareness that entrepreneurship is a" process of becoming rather than a state of being" (Bygrave, 1989, p. 21). Previous research in entrepreneurship has often focused on identifying the personal characteristics or traits that distinguish entrepreneurs from the general population rather than adopting a process-oriented approach (Low & MacMillan, 1988). For example, such factors as need for achievement (McClelland, 1961), locus of control (Brockhaus, 1982), risk-taking propensity (Brockhaus, 1980), and tolerance of ambiguity (Schere, 1982) have been identified and examined as possible traits associated with entrepreneurial behavior. The underlying assumption of these investigations has been that there are unique characteristics of entrepreneurs that may be isolated and identified (Romanelli, 1989). However, most of these factors have not been found to be unique to entrepreneurs, but rather they are common to many successful individuals, including managers (Brockhaus, 1982; Brockhaus & Horwitz, 1986; Gartner, 1985; Low & MacMillan, 1988). In addition, personality traits have not been found to be reliable predictors of future behavior (Ajzen, 1987, 1988; Ganner, 1989). Thus, attempts to develop a personality profile of the typical entrepreneur have been largely unsuccessful (Low & MacMillan, 1988).

Entrepreneurial research has also attempted to identify the social, cultural, political, and economic contextual factors that encourage new venture development, such as job displacement (Shapero & Sokol, 1982), previous work experience (Mokry, 1988), quality of urban life (Pennings, 1982), and ethnic group membership (Greenfield & Strickon, 1981). Bruno and Tyebjee (1982) identified several contextual factors that may stimulate entrepreneurship, including the availability of venture capital, governmental influences, accessibility of customers, suppliers and transportation, and the availability of such resources as a skilled labor force, land and facilities, and other support services.

In an attempt to go beyond descriptive research that identifies the context in which entrepreneurship occurs or the specific characteristics of the entrepreneur, Bird (1988) proposes a framework that focuses on the conscious and intended act of new venture creation. Entrepreneurial intention, or the state of mind that directs and guides the actions of the entrepreneur toward the development and implementation of the business concept, forms the basis of this framework. This perspective is process-oriented, directing attention toward the complex relationships among entrepreneurial ideas and the resulting outcomes of these ideas.

The purpose of this paper is to further develop Bird's model of entrepreneurial intentionality by suggesting that individual self-efficacy, which has been defined as a person's belief in his or her capability to perform a task (Gist, 1987), influences the complex process of new venture creation. It is suggested that the concept of self-efficacy, derived from social learning theory (Bandura, 1977a, 1977b, 1982), plays an important role in the development of entrepreneurial intentions and actions. Recent research has investigated the influence of one aspect of social learning theory, observational learning, in the development of entrepreneurial career preferences (Scherer, Adams, Carley, & Wiebe, 1989; Scherer, Adams, & Wiebe, 1990; Scherer, Brodzinski, & Wiebe, 1990). This paper extends the application of social learning theory to include the broader concept of self-efficacy in the examination of new venture creation. A revised version of Bird's (1988) model is suggested in which the concept of self-efficacy is integrated with the development of entrepreneurial intentions and behavior. Finally, implications of the revised model for future research are discussed. …