Academic journal article International Journal of Business

Gender's Perspective of Role Model Influence on Entrepreneurial Behavioral Beliefs

Academic journal article International Journal of Business

Gender's Perspective of Role Model Influence on Entrepreneurial Behavioral Beliefs

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

Among the factors influencing one's propensity to get involved in entrepreneurial activities the impact of gender and of parental experience are under the special scrutiny of scholars (Delmar and Davidsson, 2000; Bird and Brush, 2002; Kim et al., 2006; Van Auken et al., 2006; Boissin and Emin, 2007; Allen et al., 2008). In addition, students' intentions to follow entrepreneurial paths are being studied with the objective of finding ways to enhance such undertakings (Kolvereid, 1996b; Autio et al., 1997; Boissin and Emin, 2006; Fayolle et al., 2006).

Based on the premise that "the stronger the intention to engage in a behavior, the more likely should be its performance" (Ajzen, 1991, p. 181) academics have been relying on intention-based frameworks to analyze the impacts of various antecedents on students' career preferences (Shapero and Sokol, 1982; Ajzen, 1991; Kolvereid, 1996b; Krueger et al., 2000). The use of such models to study new venture creation has been deemed especially appropriate in the case of students populations who very rarely create straight out of school, but rather a few years later (Krueger et al., 2000). In these models, three major antecedents to intentions are usually studied: perceived behavioral control, attitude toward the behavior, and subjective norm (Ajzen, 1991). In the words of Ajzen, perceived behavioral control reflects "people's perception of the ease or difficulty of performing the behavior of interest" (p. 183), while attitude toward the behavior is "the degree to which a person has a favorable or unfavorable evaluation or appraisal of the behavior in question", and subjective norm "the perceived social pressure to perform or not to perform the behavior" (p. 188).

In this paper we focus on behavioral beliefs affecting attitude toward entrepreneurship. Specifically, we analyze the professional values of students (the professional characteristics they value for their future career) and their vision of entrepreneurship (which characteristics they think will be fulfilled by an entrepreneurial career) in light of their (1) exposure to entrepreneurial individuals, (2) gender and (3) perception of their entrepreneurial role models' experiences as successes or failures. Entrepreneurial family background and gender have been found to influence not only students intentions, but also engagement in nascent entrepreneurship and actual business start-ups at later stages (Davidsson and Honig, 2003; Van Auken et al., 2006; Boissin and Emin, 2007; Allen et al., 2008; Boissin et al., 2008; Kickul et al., 2008). Their effects on entrepreneurial intention and/or activity are thought to be both direct and indirect via their impact on attitudes and perceived control of venture creation requirements (Carr and Sequeira, 2007). In this paper, based on the premise that "most social attitudes are acquired, not innate" (Ajzen and Gilbert Cote, 2008, p. 290) we take the view that attitudes can be altered. Our results should therefore provide insight to educators and advisors on how to adapt their messages to the profiles of the students or entrepreneurs they are facing. For aspiring or established entrepreneurs, understanding how their environment may have biased their perception of entrepreneurship could help them adjust their current beliefs.

II. STUDY CONTEXT

In this section, we will first examine how our research questions are positioned within the literature. To accomplish this, we successively call upon the Theory of Planned Behavior, works on parental experience and role model influence on entrepreneurship and studies linking gender and entrepreneurship. We then, formulate three groups of hypotheses which constitute the core of this work and which will be examined in the results section.

A. Entrepreneurship, Theory of Planned Behavior and Attitudes

Entrepreneurship research uses intention models to study what might impact one's plan to become an entrepreneur. …

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