Academic journal article Journal of the Academy of Business Education

Measuring and Enhancing Dispositional Optimism and Entrepreneurial Intent in the Entrepreneurial Classroom: An Bahamian Study

Academic journal article Journal of the Academy of Business Education

Measuring and Enhancing Dispositional Optimism and Entrepreneurial Intent in the Entrepreneurial Classroom: An Bahamian Study

Article excerpt


Entrepreneurs have long been recognized as significant contributors to economic growth and development (Sternberg and Wennekers, 2005). As a result much research has focused on antecedents of entrepreneurial behavior and recently particularly on entrepreneurial intent (El) - the intent to start a new venture - as a key precursor of entrepreneurial behavior (Crane and Crane, 2007; Engle, Schlaegel and Delanoe, 2011).

A wide variety of contextual and individual factors have been suggested to influence El and entrepreneurial behavior. From a national perspective culture, social norms and environmental factors like the availability of capital (Bygrave, 2002) and role models (Krueger, 2000) have been suggested to influence entrepreneurial behavior. From an individual perspective, a wide range of personality and behavioral factors have been suggested.

This study focuses on one personality factor - dispositional optimism as well as the notion of entrepreneurial intent. Dispositional optimism (DO) is defined as the global generalized tendency to believe that one will experience good versus bad outcomes in life. In other words, it is about one's positive expectation for the future (Scheier and Carver, 1992). Not only has dispositional optimism has been found to be a key trait possessed by successful entrepreneurs it has been shown to be highly correlated to entrepreneurial intent (Baron, 2000; Crane and Crane, 2007 Crane and Meyer, 2006; Crane and Sohl, 2004). Thus, this paper explores both DO and El and whether or not these constructs can be enhanced in the entrepreneurial classroom.

One American study did find that an innovative pedagogical approach could lead to higher levels of DO (Crane and Meyer, 2007). Elowever, the literature has suggested that Americans tend to exhibit higher dispositional optimism and are more likely to engage in entrepreneurial behavior compared to individuals in other nations (Minniti and Bygrave, 2003). This is particularly true of the nation of the Bahamas where major cultural and financial barriers exist with regard to entrepreneurship (Engle, Schlaegel and Dalanoe, 2011, Crane 2014). Also, the American study did not measure El but this study did so thus this is an added component to the much needed examination of the impact of teaching entrepreneurship in the classroom.


Many experts have discussed factors that affect entrepreneurship and/or the intent to act entrepreneurially. Timmons and Spinelli (2004) have found that entrepreneurial development is based on three things: people, opportunity, and resources. Moreover, they suggest that these three constructs are embedded in a massive external infrastructure: society, government, culture, economy, legal issues, business environment, education, technology, and banking. In particular, they argue that an individual's personal values and aspirations (e.g. to start a business) are shaped by environmental conditions. Reynolds (1992) concurs by suggesting that entrepreneurial activity does not occur in a vacuum. Instead it is deeply embedded in a cultural and social context. Bygrave (1998) has also found that the external environment surrounding the individual can affect, positively or negatively, entrepreneurial development.

Shapero (1981, 1982) suggests that entrepreneurs emerge from a "nutrient-rich" environment. These nutrients must include social and cultural support, information and tacit knowledge, as well as tangible resources. Efe argues that such "seedbeds" can establish fertile ground for potential entrepreneurs to seize and exploit opportunities. Krueger (2000) suggests that perceived social norms, perceived resource availability, and the existence of role models affect entrepreneurial intent.

Thus, it appears that a variety of factors affect entrepreneurship and/or the intent to act entrepreneurially including a variety of external environmental variables. However, there is other research that focuses on the individual and the psychology of that individual with regard to entrepreneurship. …

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