Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Using Social Cognitive Career Theory to Predict Self-Employment Goals

Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Using Social Cognitive Career Theory to Predict Self-Employment Goals

Article excerpt

Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, and Hackett 1994, 1996) proposes that career interests, goals, and choices are related to self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations. It suggests that people's self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations with regard to self-employment would predict their goals to become selfemployed. This study explores the ability of SCCT to predict goals for self-employment in a sample of 115 undergraduate business students. Results indicated that students with higher entrepreneurial self-efficacy and higher self-employment outcome expectations had higher intentions to become self-employed. These findings imply that educators and policy-makers may boost student entrepreneurial intentions by (1) enhancing students' confidence to succeed in an entrepreneurial career and (2) enhancing students' expectations of strong positive outcomes resulting from an entrepreneurial career.

Being an entrepreneur, one who is self-employed and who starts, organizes, manages, and assumes responsibility for a business, offers a personal challenge that many individuals prefer over being an employee working for someone else. Entrepreneurs accept the personal financial risks that go with owning a business but also benefit directly from the success of the business. As career choices go, becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most risky and unstructured choices an individual can make (Campbell 1992). Being an entrepreneur is often viewed as an aversive career choice where one is faced with everyday life and work situations that are fraught with increased uncertainty, impediments, failures, and frustrations associated with the process of new firm creation. It seems, therefore, unlikely that an individual would make a goal for an entrepreneurial career if he or she did not feel confident to perform the necessary tasks associated with forming and developing his or her own business. What is it about certain people that drives them to take on the risk, uncertainty and independent structure of business ownership?

Stevenson and Jarillo (1990) suggested that research exploring entrepreneurial behavior could be divided into three categories: (1) how entrepreneurs act (i.e., what do they do), (2) what happens when entrepreneurs act (i.e., what are the outcomes of their actions), and (3) why people choose to act as entrepreneurs (i.e., what motivates them). The research presented in this article focuses on the third category, and explores the use of a well-accepted model from the careers literature, Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), to shed light on the motivation to become an entrepreneur.

Although many studies of entrepreneurial motivation have examined personality traits of entrepreneurs, the results of these studies are mixed and inconclusive (Herron and Sapienza 1992; Shaver and Scott 1991; Kreiser, Marino, and Weaver 2002). Recent research (Roy and Elango 2000) has begun to focus on other characteristics of entrepreneurs, such as cognitive make-up as a potential indicator of success. Entrepreneurship research has also attempted to identify the situational and environmental factors that predict entrepreneurial activity, such as job displacement, previous work experience, availability of various resources, and governmental influences. However, these empirical studies of contextual factors have also found low explanatory power and predictive ability (Krueper, Reilly and Carsrud 2000).

Most of the entrepreneurship motivation models advanced in recent years are process-oriented models, based on either economic or social psychological theory. Several researchers (Campbell 1992; Levesque, Shepherd, and Douglas 2002; Praag and Cramer 2001) have proposed models using economic perspectives to predict self-employment. These economic models suggest that the decision to become self-employed is based on maximizing the net usefulness, utility, or desirability of an entrepreneurial career. …

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