Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Effect of Temporal Distance on Chinese Undergraduates' Entrepreneurial Decision Making

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Effect of Temporal Distance on Chinese Undergraduates' Entrepreneurial Decision Making

Article excerpt

Undergraduate entrepreneurship is currently a very popular issue in the field of higher education throughout the world. As rates of university enrolment rise, the competition for a finite number of graduate positions also increases. Because of this, entrepreneurship of graduates has a potentially more important role, to reduce unemployment pressure and strengthen national levels of innovation. However, in China today, the percentage of entrepreneurial graduates is very low, even in regions with abundant businesses, such as Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province, and only 5% of current graduates have chosen to begin their own new business (Xie, Lin, & Zeng, 2007). Nevertheless, Chinese undergraduates are exposed to entrepreneurship from the start of their education at universities. Some researchers have shown that the entrepreneurial intention, entrepreneurial choice, and entrepreneurial achievement motivation of freshmen (first year undergraduates) and sophomores (second year undergraduates) was significantly higher than that of juniors (third year undergraduates) and seniors (fourth year undergraduates) (Yan & Ye, 2009; Ye, 2009; Zhu & Fu, 2010). Freshmen and sophomores were more confident in choosing entrepreneurship as a job upon graduation compared to juniors and seniors, indicating a clear difference between these two classes.

Some researchers believe that temporal construal theory (TCT) could partially explain the finding that juniors and seniors have lower levels of entrepreneurial intention and entrepreneurial action compared to freshmen and sophomores. In TCT it is stated that the temporal distance from an event affects people's decisions regarding that event, and distant future situations are construed on a higher level than near future situations (Liberman, Sagristano, & Trope, 2002; Liberman & Trope, 1998). Therefore, decisions regarding distant future events are likely to be based on abstract features which are separated from the concrete context and background by focusing on the desire for results. In contrast, decisions regarding near future events are likely to be based on concrete features, focused on the feasibility of the progress of realizing the objective (Liberman & Trope, 1998; Li, Zhou, & Zhou, 2009; Sun, Zhang, & Wu, 2007). In addition, probability and space distance will also affect the individual's construal level (Todorov, Goren, & Trope, 2007).

Researchers of decision making have also found that there is a systematic relationship between temporal distance and subjective confidence; people often take more risks and feel more confident about the more distant future (Gilovich, Kerr, & Medvec, 1993; Liberman et al., 2002). Differences in temporal distance lead to systematic differences in the way information is processed, such that it is manifested in more abstract thinking in the distant future than in the near future (Malkoe, Zauberman, & Ulu, 2005). Entrepreneurship is a distant idea to freshmen and sophomores, so they are more focused on the desire for results in the entrepreneurial decision progress and have little consideration for the difficulties of entrepreneurship; therefore, they are more positive about entrepreneurial intention and action. In contrast, entrepreneurship is a closer reality for juniors and seniors, so they are more focused on the feasibility of the entrepreneurial process and have more consideration of the difficulties such as lack of entrepreneurial resources; therefore, they are more negative about entrepreneurial intention and action.

Based on the literature reviewed above, I formulated the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: The difference in temporal distance to the start of the venture will affect undergraduates' decision to choose entrepreneurship. More specifically, freshmen and sophomores differ from juniors and seniors in their temporal distance from graduation, and this difference will affect their decision to choose entrepreneurship. …

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