Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

The Long-Term Supply of Entrepreneurs: Students' Career Aspirations in Relation to Entrepreneurship

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

The Long-Term Supply of Entrepreneurs: Students' Career Aspirations in Relation to Entrepreneurship

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: UN MARCHE A LONG-TERME: ASPIRATIONS PROFESSIONNELLES DES ETUDIANTS PAR RAPPORT A L'ESPRIT D'ENTREPRISE

Cette enquete, menee d'abord en Angleterre, puis aux Etats-Unis et en Republique d'Irlande, se fonde surles resultats d'un questionnaire sur les facteurs influencantles aspirations et choix professionnels des etudiants au niveau universitaire. Trois groupes semblent avoir un impact prioritaire sur l'evolution de leurs preferences professionnelles: (1) les facteurs de predisposition, tels que l'influence parentale, l'experience personnelle, la connaissance de soi et des organisations considerees; (2) les facteurs de declenchement, tels que la recherche d'un metier, le chomage, les conseils de services specialists; (3) l'existence d'un projet precis de creation d'entreprise. Ces ensembles de facteurs different de facon significative de ceux des etudiants envisageant une carriere independante, ou un poste dans une petite ou grande entreprise, ou dans le public. On retrouve un modele identique d'un pays a l'autre, pour ce qui concerne l'idee que les candidats se font d'eux-memes et des organisations les interessant. La mise en evidence, dans les autres domaines, de l'existence de differences importantes, encourage l'emploi de strategies de recrutement differentes suivant le pays ou la region.

Numerous publications, journals, and programs have recently been devoted to small business and entrepreneurship. This growing interest in entrepreneurship, especially on the part of governments, is prompted in part by the assumption that much of an economy's ability to innovate, diversify, and create new jobs comes from the small business sector. Many programs, such as Britain's New Enterprise Program, have been instituted to interest young people in entrepreneurship. In order to encourage entrepreneurship, we must ask, "What shapes career aspirations toward selfemployment?"

The purpose of the research survey reported in this article was to identify factors that influence entrepreneurial aspirations by obtaining data on student career aspirations from three countries and using a model to separate, test, and explain the findings.

The data were derived from studies conducted in the United States at West Virginia University, in northeast England, and in the Republic of Ireland. The study began in 1982 when researchers at Durham University Business School undertook to assess the potential long-term supply of entrepreneurs in the region by investigating the career attitudes of students in higher education. Supported by funding from Shell U.K. Ltd., nearly 1,000 students were surveyed about their attitudes toward entrepreneurship and careers in small business. The survey revealed significant interest in entrepreneurship, but a lack of knowledge about how small firms enter the marketplace and operate.

Some researchers have identified the need for achievement, risk taking, and locus of control as "typical" entrepreneurial characteristics." Still other studies cast doubt on these relationships and demonstrate the importance of situational influences.' No systematic research has been devoted to testing a range of factors that might contribute to the aspirations of students toward self-employement

THE MODEL

The main variables that influence aspiration of students toward entrepreneurship are categorized as (1) predisposing factors, (2) triggering factors, and (3) possessing a business idea. Figure 1 summarizes the relationships among these factors.

Predisposing factors are background/ personality/ perception factors that develop over several years or more. They include one's role models, other background experiences, and the views one has of oneself and of various types of organizations. In this study, "parents owned smallbusiness" and "experiencework and hobbies" are two of the predisposing variables thought to shape perceptions of oneself as a potential entrepreneur. …

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