Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Who Becomes an Entrepreneur? the Dispositional Regulatory Focus Perspective

Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Who Becomes an Entrepreneur? the Dispositional Regulatory Focus Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

Why are some individuals more likely than others to become entrepreneurs? Current entrepreneurship research has sought to answer this question, but focused mainly on cognition such as entrepreneurial self-efficacy (i.e., one's belief in the ability to perform entrepreneurial tasks) (Chen et al., 1998, McGee et al., 2009, Krueger and Dickson, 1994) and perceptions (e.g., desirability) (Fitzsimmons and Douglas, 2011, Krueger, 1993, Krueger et al., 2000). However, cognitive psychologists suggest that cognition is partly shaped by one's dispositions (i.e., stable personality traits) (Bandura, 1986). Additionally, recent empirical evidence shows that some dispositional traits determine entrepreneurial intention (Nicolaou and Shane, 2009, Nicolaou et al, 2008, Shane et al, 2010, Zhao et al, 2010). This study focuses on the dispositional perspective and aims to identify two dispositional determinants of entrepreneurial intention that are rooted in regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1998).

Existing research on entrepreneurial intention largely builds on Krueger's revised models (Krueger et al, 2000) related to the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) and from Shapero and Sokol's (1982) framework. The Krueger-Ajzen model suggests that entrepreneurial intention is a result of entrepreneurial self-efficacy and entrepreneurial attitude, while the Krueger-Shapero model argues that perceived feasibility and perceived desirability form entrepreneurial intention (Krueger et al, 2000). Both models argue that entrepreneurial intention is highly influenced by one's own perceptions, therefore marginalizing the roles of dispositional factors. This omission in entrepreneurship research is critical as some dispositional factors of entrepreneurs are indeed different from those of non-entrepreneurs (Rauch and Frese, 2007b)

The importance of dispositional factors on entrepreneurial intention was initially recognized decades ago (Gartner, 1988, Brockhaus, 1980) yet the research received little attention subsequently. This is partly due to lack of empirical support (Zhao et al, 2010). Recently, scholars have started to call for revival of entrepreneurship research on dispositional factors and argue that dispositional factors matter if a more appropriate theoretical lens and a more rigorous research method are employed (Rauch and Frese, 2007b, Rauch and Frese, 2007a).

Consequently, researchers have found that entrepreneurs are different from non-entrepreneurs in their risk propensity (Stewart and Roth, 2001), Big Five dispositional traits (Zhao et al, 2010, Rauch and Frese, 2007b), and genetic factors (Nicolaou and Shane, 2009, Nicolaou et al, 2008, Shane et al, 2010). This paper attempts to extend this stream of research by drawing on regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1998) to predict individuals' entrepreneurial intentions from their dispositional promotion orientation (i.e., the extent to which the individual is motivated by his/her achievement needs) and prevention focus orientation (i.e. the extent to which the individual is motivated by his/her safety and security needs). Specifically, this paper proposes that dispositional promotion focus orientation increases entrepreneurial intention, while dispositional prevention focus orientation decreases entrepreneurial intention. To test this model, the author conducts a survey on undergraduate students and an experimental study on real-life entrepreneurs. The results consistently support the hypothesis regarding dispositional prevention focus.

This paper makes many important contributions to entrepreneurial research. Firstly, it presents an alternative lens to understand the formation of entrepreneurial intention. Current research on entrepreneurial intention largely focuses on cognition (Fitzsimmons and Douglas, 2011, Krueger et al, 2000, Liñán and Chen, 2009). This study shows that dispositional factors are relevant alongside cognition. Second, psychologists have found that some personality traits, such as Big Five factors impact entrepreneurs' attitudes and behaviors (Rauch and Frese, 2007b, Zhao et al, 2010). …

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