Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

Factors Influencing Entrepreneurial Intentions among Arab Students

Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

Factors Influencing Entrepreneurial Intentions among Arab Students

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The European Commission defines entrepreneurship as the process and mind-set to initiate and develop economic activity (European Commission, 2003). The continued uncertainty about the economy, signified by a declining number of corporate recruiters fosters the appeal of new business launching and self-employment (Schaper & Volery, 2004). Studies have shown entrepreneurship to be an effective driver of economic growth and a sustainable source of competitiveness amidst emerging trends of globalization (Schaper & Volery, 2004). According to the authors, entrepreneurship drives growth through technological change, innovation, job creation and wealth generation (Schaper & Volery, 2004). Over the last 15 years alone, large corporations and Fortune 500 companies have eliminated millions of jobs through retrenchment plans; yet entrepreneurial discoveries have yielded a yearly average of 600,000 new incorporations and generated millions of job opportunities (Morris & Kuratko, 2002). These findings explain researchers' continued interest in studying the impact of entrepreneurship on growth and the factors influencing the development of entrepreneurial attitudes among different segments of the population. Most of these studies have, however, focused on western economies, leaving knowledge gaps in relation to the effects of the same in other regions such as Africa and the Middle East. This paper seeks to identify the core variables influencing university students' attitudes towards entrepreneurship in selected Arab countries in Africa and the Middle East. It is based on an empirical study conducted among a sample of 1500 undergraduate students pursuing business-related degrees in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (KSA), Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Considering the importance of entrepreneurship on the modern-day economy, the current study will provide meaningful insights on how universities and other institutions of higher learning could provide entrepreneurial support to their students to enable them start their own business ventures.

Problem Statement

A 2009 report by Silatech and Gallup on the entrepreneurial attitudes of Arab youth identified three factors that youth consider to be the greatest obstacles to success in life: the necessity of personal connections (wasta), lack of awareness on new employment initiatives AND inadequate educational systems that do not offer effective job training (Gallup Inc., 2009). The report carefully states that Arab youths hold complex attitudes towards entrepreneurship - most of them believe that entrepreneurship leads to wealth and job creation, yet solid majorities do not harbour entrepreneurial intentions; neither do they believe they can make good entrepreneurs (Gallup Inc., 2009). This mismatch between entrepreneurial attitudes and entrepreneurial intentions among Arab youth is reflected in a study by Almobaireek and Manolova (2011) involving 59 MENA countries. The study showed that although Arab youth consider entrepreneurship a good career choice, most of them do not harbour serious entrepreneurial intentions (Almobaireek & Manolova, 2011). In Egypt, for instance, 77.7 percent of respondents indicated their agreement with entrepreneurship as a good career choice, yet only 24 percent mentioned harbouring serious entrepreneurial intentions (Almobaireek & Manolova, 2011). The situation is even more worrying in Saudi Arabia, where 86 percent of youth consider entrepreneurship a good career choice and only 1 percent is inclined to take up entrepreneurial opportunities (Almobaireek & Manolova, 2011). Moreover, only 7.7 percent of respondents believed that they were adequately trained and qualified to start and sustain their own businesses. The Almobaireek and Manolova (2011) study presents an interesting finding about the impact of successful role models on Arab youth's entrepreneurial intentions. The study findings depict a mismatch between youth's perceptions about successful entrepreneurs in their countries AND their own inclination to take up entrepreneurial opportunities (Almobaireek & Manolova, 2011). …

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