Prediction of Employment Status Choice Intentions

By Kolvereid, Lars | Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

Prediction of Employment Status Choice Intentions


Kolvereid, Lars, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice


The purpose of the present research is to apply the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) to predict employment status choice intentions. In addition, this research investigates the impact of family background, gender and prior self-employment experience on employment status choice intentions. The term employment status choice was defined by Katz (1992, p. 30) as "the vocational decision process in terms of the individual's decision to enter an occupation as a wage or salaried individual or a self-employed one."

Role models or tracking models have for long been the dominant approaches to the prediction of employment status choice (Robinson, Simpson, Huefner, & Hunt, 1991; Katz, 1992). Demographic models like these are discussed below before we move on to the role of career intentions, discuss possible antecedents of such intentions, and formulate specific hypotheses.

MODELS OF EMPLOYMENT STATUS CHOICE

Entrepreneurship research has long regarded the powerful influences of personal history and social context on the propensity to enter self-employment (Katz, 1992). Research into tracking or role models and family background of entrepreneurs suggests a connect ion between the presence of role models and the emergence of entrepreneurs (Brockhaus & Horwitz, 1086: Cooper. 1986: Cooper & Dunkelberg, 1984; Shapero & Sokol, 1982: Timmons, 1986). Empirical evidence for the relationship between the parental role model and preference for a self-employment career has been reported by Scott and Twomey (1988), Scherer, Adams. Carley, and Wiebe (1989), and Matthews and Moser (1995).

Even though the proportion of female business starters seem to have increased in recent years, women only account for approximately 20% of new firm formations in the Scandinavian countries (Davidsson, 1993: SSB, 1994). Possible explanations for the relatively low proportion of female business starters include primogeniture, especially in traditional societies or where so favored by legal structures, and that males have higher preference lot entrepreneurship than females. An alternative explanation is that males with a family background in entrepreneurship are more likely to be interested in an entrepreneurship career than females with a family background in entrepreneurship (Matthews & Moser, 1995). Such an effect may be caused by females facing higher barriers and other impediments regarding career decisions than males (Aldrich, 1989). Empirical research from the United States indicates that males have a higher preference for entrepreneurship than females (Scherer et al., 1989; Matthews & Moser, 1995).

An individual's work experience has also been noted as influential on interest in entrepreneurship (Scott & Twomey, 1988). Matthews and Moser (1995) found a statistically significant relationship between small business work experience and interest in owning a small firm. Compared to other types of work experience, past entrepreneurial experience may be more important for entrepreneurial success (Sandberg & Hofer, 1987; Vesper, 1990) and for interest in an entrepreneurial career. There are some indications that prior entrepreneurial experience is positively related to entrepreneurial behavior. In a large sample of undergraduate alumni from five U.S. universities who where identified as having had a career as independent founding entrepreneurs, 63% of the currently practicing entrepreneurs and 40% of all ex-entrepreneurs had created more than one venture (Ronstadt, 1988).

Demographic models have been criticized for several reasons. Katz (1992) argued that role models or tracking models are not widely applicable, and that these models can not account for situations in which the individual fails to follow in parental footsteps. Robinson et al. (1991) used the following example to illustrate this point: Two individuals born and raised in virtually identical circumstances may have very different conceptions of entrepreneurship. …

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