Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Entrepreneurial Identity, Intentions and the Effect of the Push-Factor

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Entrepreneurial Identity, Intentions and the Effect of the Push-Factor

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Since Kilby's hunting of the Heffalump, determinants of entrepreneurial behaviour (1) have been searched for in various directions. It is somewhat surprising that even today there prevails an (at least implicit) understanding and belief in homogeneous Heffalumps. That is to say, we do not take into account seriously enough the great variation in entrepreneurial roles and types when trying to understand and find linkages between personal characteristics and entrepreneurial behaviour. Thus, instead of searching for one Heffalump, we should rather search for the species or tribe of those important actors. While searching for these characters, it is important to note that the mode of appearance of entrepreneurial actors varies to a great degree. That is a fact that is very explicit in entrepreneurship literature. However, in research focusing on the determinants of entrepreneurial behaviour the distinction between different forms of 'entrepreneurial behaviour' is neglected.

It is a common view amongst the researchers in entrepreneurship that the moment of emerging entrepreneurial identity and intentionality is an important research object. Especially studies on varying backgrounds of would-be entrepreneurs and research on 'who, when, and which factors have influence on their decision to start up' are seen as important (see e.g., Dyer, 1994; Schein, 1994; Koskinen, 1996). In this paper we regard entrepreneurial identity as a latent occupational concept of oneself, and use our data of a 'normal' population to study how common entrepreneurial identities are (the proportion of people identifying themselves as possible entrepreneurs) and what kinds of different identities exist in a population. From there we continue by studying, the entrepreneurial intentions (of starting up a business) within the population. Also relationships between identities and intentionality are studied. The paper ends up with an analysis of the pushfactor's effect on the relationship between entrepreneurial identity and intentionality. There is quite a lot of theorising about the influence of the push-factor on entrepreneurship, but there are rather few research results about certain push-factors' influence on the intentionality of different personalities. This study tries to focus on that theme by elaborating the effect of the push-factor on various groups of persons.

DETERMINANTS OF ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTION

At a very general level of discussion, the various explanations of entrepreneurship can be categorised into two schools: (i) the environmental school and (ii) the people school. The environmental school bases its explanation of the existence of entrepreneurship on the cultural and structural conditions of (most often) the local environment. A recent survey by Reynolds, Storey and Westhead (1994) focused on various economic-structural characteristics in six countries trying to find out relationships between structural variables and entrepreneurship. Also Johannisson and Bang (1992), Davidsson (1993) and Havusela (1995) have reported empirical findings on the relationship between structural variables and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship-related values and attitudes have been used as a measure indicating local culture (see e.g,. Davidsson, 1993). Similarly, in the classical work of McClelland (1961) the personal achievement motive was used to measure an achieving culture at the level of society. According to various investigations, there is a link between both structural and cultural aspects of environment and entrepreneurship. In many cases, however, this link seems to be quite vague and the strict causality between the independent (environment) and the dependent (entrepreneurship) variable is uncertain and thus problematic.

The people school of entrepreneurship stresses the importance of 'right stuff' (see e.g. Ronstadt, 1984). At an extreme, the point is that an individual having 'entrepreneurial characteristics' always finds the path to entrepreneurship regardless of environmental conditions. …

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