1 The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at JEIT 33,2 142 Received 25 August 2008 Revised 9 October 2008 Accepted 4 December 2008 Which factors affect entrepreneurial intention of university students? Duygu Turker Vocational School, Yasar University, Izmir, Turkey, and Senem Sonmez Selcuk Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Yasar University, Izmir, Turkey Journal of European Industrial Training Vol. 33 No. 2, 2009 pp q Emerald Group Publishing Limited DOI / Abstract Purpose Fostering entrepreneurship needs a twofold policy that should focus on both the current situation and future prospect of entrepreneurship. Although many scholars and policy makers devote their attention to the first foci of issue, it is equally important to map out the future context of entrepreneurship. The purpose of this paper is to fill this void by analysing the impacts of some contextual factors on entrepreneurial intention of university students. Design/methodology/approach In the study, a model was proposed and empirically tested on a sample of 300 university students in Turkey. The entrepreneurial support model (ESM) considers predominantly the impact of contextual factors on entrepreneurial intention. In the model, entrepreneurial intention is taken as a function of educational, relational, and structural supports. Findings The results of the survey showed that educational and structural support factors affect the entrepreneurial intention of students. Research limitations/implications The paper contributes to the literature by theorizing and empirically testing how some factors affect the entrepreneurial intention of university students. Although the study is subject to some limitations, it is believed that these limitations can be overcome with further studies. Practical implications The results of the study may have valuable implications for the policy makers and educators. Originality/value Since today s youth are the potential entrepreneurs of the future, understanding their perception about contextual factors can be a contribution to the development of the literature and an important step in designing a more effective policy mechanism. Keywords Entrepreneurialism, Students, Universities Paper type Research paper 1. Introduction Entrepreneurship has captured the attention of both scholars and policy makers during the last decades. The main reason of this concern is the growing need for entrepreneurs who accelerate economic development through generating new ideas and converting them into profitable ventures. Entrepreneurial activities are not only the incubators of technological innovation; they provide employment opportunity and increase The authors are grateful to Professor M. Cengiz Pınar, Yasar University, for his valuable ideas and Esra Turan and her students in Yasar University for their support and help during the data collection process.
2 competitiveness also (Reynolds, 1987; Zahra, 1999). Since the encouragement of entrepreneurship is essential to stimulate growth in a growth-conscious world,...we can try to learn how one can stimulate the volume and intensity of entrepreneurial activity... (Baumol, 1968, p. 71). In such a learning process, both policy makers and scholars should concentrate on the question of why some people choose an entrepreneurial career and others do not. The previous studies in the literature provide some alternative explanations for this question. Some scholars primarily focus on the effect of personality characteristics on decision making process (Bonnett and Furnham, 1991; Brockhaus, 1980; Johnson, 1990). Although the results vary across the studies, they often indicate a link between entrepreneurial intention and some personality factors, such as self-confidence, risk-taking ability, need to achievement, and locus of control. However, a person is surrounded by an extended range of cultural, social, economical, political, demographical, and technological factors. Therefore, personality traits cannot be isolated from these contextual factors. In the literature, there are some studies that take into account the role of these factors also. For instance, according to Hisrich (1990), people can be pushed or pulled by the situational factors, which are related with their personal backgrounds and present lives. From a broader point of view, the cultural and institutional frameworks also affect entrepreneurship (Wennekers and Thurik, 1999). The review of literature on entrepreneurship shows that most of the scholars have focused on adult entrepreneurs. In these studies, adult entrepreneurs were examined after choosing their entrepreneurial careers. Since people are likely to start a business within the age range of 25 to 44 (Liles, 1974), it is also critical to focus on people who are younger than 25 and understand which factors affect their intentions to start-up a business in the future. As Henderson and Robertson (2000) also stated... the future working environment will depend on the creativity and individuality of the young. However, indeed relatively little is known about young adult views on entrepreneurship (p.279). The policy implications of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM, 2001) indicated that people with limited education are less likely to participate in entrepreneurial initiatives. According to Garavan and O Cinneide (1994), the different stories of successful entrepreneurs stimulate the debate on the famous paradigm of the entrepreneurs are made or born. Obviously, it is difficult to ignore the possible impacts of genetics or personality traits. As it is discussed in the next section, the literature provides many studies, which suggest the impacts of these factors. However, in the social sciences, it is a more accurate way to explain every phenomenon with taking into account the interactions of various factors, rather than considering the impact of a single factor. Therefore, even if genetics or personality traits have some impacts on entrepreneurial inclination, it might be better to consider the impact of some contextual factors. It is clear that education and training are among the most important elements in the development of human resources. The previous studies in the literature also indicate a link between education and entrepreneurship (Galloway and Brown, 2002; Gorman and Hanlon, 1997; Henderson and Robertson, 2000; Kolvereid and Moen, 1997). Therefore, getting an adequate education may foster entrepreneurial intention of a person. According to Garavan and O Cinneide (1994, p. 3),...there is clearly a major role and need for entrepreneurship education and training. Entrepreneurial intention 143
3 JEIT 33,2 144 Since the education offered by a university mostly influences the career selection of students, universities can be seen as potential sources of future entrepreneurs. Today, most universities have spent significant amounts of money to design a viable entrepreneurship education for their students. According to a wider conception, entrepreneurship education is defined as the whole set of education and training activities within the educational system or not that try to develop in the participants the intention to perform entrepreneurial behaviors, or some of the elements that affect that intention, such as entrepreneurial knowledge, desirability of the entrepreneurial activity, or its feasibility (Liñán, 2004a, p.163, 2004b). There is a great variety among universities on the nature, scope, and structure of entrepreneurial education. Hills (1988) described it as an evolving field that was an embryonic stage at the late 1980s and pointed out the variety of educational objectives among universities. According to Garavan and O Cinneide (1994, p. 4), the lack of a clear consensus on the definition of an entrepreneur contributes to the confusion and variety in the content of entrepreneurial education and training programmes. As it is also indicated by Vesper and Gartner (1997, p. 407), there is a diversity of views among academics about what constitutes entrepreneurship program such as whether entrepreneurship must focus on organization creation, growing firms, innovation, value creation, and ownership. Harrison and Leitch (1994) analysed the evolution of entrepreneurship education in a three-stage model. According to this model, the first approach to entrepreneurial education is to view it as a sub-set of general management education. As a reaction to this approach, the second view differentiates entrepreneurial education from the managements of large-scale organizations. The last stage provides a basis for the notion of the reintegration of management education and entrepreneurship education (Harrison and Leitch, 1994). Recently, the nature of discussion on entrepreneurial education shifts towards learning for entrepreneurship, not about it (Cooper et al., 2004). Since it is difficult to find one best model for all cases, the disagreement on the issue might continue in the future as well. However, the concrete progress in the entrepreneurial education during the last decades show that these discussions are important for shaping the future understandings. In parallel with the world, there is an increasing interest to entrepreneurship education in Turkey as well. However, as it is indicated by Gürol and Atsan (2006), it is far from being a national policy matter. The review of curricula of Turkish business schools in 2006 demonstrated that 15 of 53 state universities have elective entrepreneurship course, while 7 of 23 private universities offer entrepreneurship provision and only one of them offers a major in entrepreneurship (Gürol and Atsan, 2006, p. 27). It is clear that the existing level of entrepreneurship education in Turkey is quite insufficient to foster entrepreneurship. In fact, entrepreneurship is one of the main strategies of industrial policy in Turkey towards the full membership to European Union (EU). However, the lack of a comprehensive policy framework for entrepreneurial education is a significant impediment to achieve a rapid progress. Therefore, there is a need to focus on entrepreneurship education. Obviously, understanding perceptions of students at higher education level is a necessary step in this process. The purpose of the current study is to analyse the entrepreneurial intention of university students in Turkey. In the study, a model that mainly focuses on the impacts of some contextual factors was proposed and empirically tested on a
4 sample of 300 university students. Therefore, the study contributes to the literature by theorizing and empirically testing how some factors affect entrepreneurial intention of university students. It is believed that the results of study may have some significant implications for the policy makers and educators. 2. Theoretical framework 2.1 The entrepreneurs of the future In the literature, some scholars have investigated the entrepreneurial intention, interest, or propensity of students (Ang and Hong, 2000; Autio et al., 1997; Begley et al., 1997; Henderson and Robertson, 2000; Lee et al., 2005; Lüthje and Franke, 2003; Parnell et al., 1995; Scott and Twomey, 1988; Turker et al., 2005; Veciana et al., 2005; Wang and Wong, 2004). The approaches of these studies closely overlap with the general mainstream of entrepreneurship literature. Some of them focus on personality characteristics or personal background of respondents. In their study, Ang and Hong (2000) compared entrepreneurial spirits of university students in Hong Kong and Singapore. The study concentrated specifically on the role of some personality characteristics (risk-taking propensity, tolerance for ambiguity, internal locus of control, innovativeness, and independence) and motivational factors (love for money, desire for security, and desire for status), rather than the differences in the contextual factors. Wang and Wong (2004) explained entrepreneurial interest of students in Singapore based on personal background. The study reveals that gender, family business experience, and education level are significant factors in explaining entrepreneurial interest. The study of Henderson and Robertson (2000) also provided a useful insight into perception of young adult on entrepreneurship. The study shows that the respondents perceived entrepreneurs mostly with their innate characteristics. However, most of them thought that entrepreneurial traits should be nurtured by external factors. The literature provides some useful insights into the impact of contextual factors. In an early work, Scott and Twomey (1988) analysed the ambitions of university students and the results of the study identified parental influence and work experience as significant factors. The study of Begley et al. (1997) compared the role of socio-cultural factors in a four-dimensional model. The study indicated that only social status of entrepreneurs might be predicted as a factor to start a business (Begley et al., 1997). In their cross-cultural study, Lee et al. (2005) investigated the differences in the attitudes of university students towards venture creation in four countries. The study revealed that each country should provide a customized entrepreneurship education to foster entrepreneurship considering their unique cultural contexts (Lee et al., 2005). The studies of Autio et al. (1997) and Veciana et al.(2005) analysed the entrepreneurship of university students through a process-based approach. The study of Autio et al. (1997) checked the robustness of entrepreneurial intention in various cultural contexts. The study indicated that the image of entrepreneurs and encouragement from university environment affect the entrepreneurial conviction of university students. The study of Veciana et al. (2005) tested the desirability, feasibility, and intentionality for entrepreneurship according to gender and entrepreneurial history of students in Catalonia and Puerto Rico. Although the participants had a favourable perception of desirability towards entrepreneurship, their perceptions of feasibility were not positive and so their intentions were relatively low. Entrepreneurial intention 145
5 JEIT 33,2 146 The proposed model of Lüthje and Franke (2003) incorporated both personality traits and contextual factors. The study revealed that the impact of attitude towards self-employment might be linked to two personality traits (risk-taking propensity and internal locus of control) and two contextual factors (perceived barriers and perceived support). The study of Türker et al. (2005) also considered the impacts of both internal factors (motivation and self-confidence) and external factors (perceived level of education, opportunities, and support) on entrepreneurial propensity of university students. The study found that two internal factors and perceived level of support were statistically significant factors. In a cross-cultural study, Parnell et al. (1995) compared the entrepreneurial propensity of American and Egyptian university students. In their study, entrepreneurial propensity was taken as a function of self-confidence, perceived level of education, and perceived opportunities. The study revealed that entrepreneurial propensity of American students is greater than Egyptian students. 2.2 Structural model In the light of previous studies, we proposed a structural model to analyse the entrepreneurial intention of university students. Theory of Planned Behavior provides a general framework to analyse the entrepreneurial intention of a person (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980; Ajzen, 1987, 1991). According to Bird (1988), intentionality can be defined as a state of mind directing a person s attention, experience and action towards a specific goal or a path to achieve something. Therefore, entrepreneurial action can be also classified as an intentional behavior (Bird, 1988; Shapero, 1982) or intention is a predictor of planned entrepreneurial behavior (Krueger, 1993). Shapero (1982) indicated that the entrepreneurial intention stems from the perception of feasibility and desirability of a person and this path is affected by the cultural and social context. Based on the models of Shapero (1982) and Ajzen (1991), a process-based approach has been widely used by the scholars in the literature (Krueger, 1993; Krueger and Brazeal, 1994; Krueger and Carsrud, 1993). In the current study, entrepreneurial intentions of students were analysed from a process-based approach also. Since the perceptions of students on their current context are highly significant to understand their entrepreneurial intention, a model of Turker et al. (2005) was modified and used in the study. The entrepreneurial support model (ESM) considers predominantly the impact of contextual factors on entrepreneurial intention. In the model, entrepreneurial intention is taken as a function of educational, relational, and structural supports. However, the model also considers the impact of one personality trait, self-confidence, as moderator variable. The first dimension of model is educational support. It is obvious that professional education in universities is an efficient way of obtaining necessary knowledge about entrepreneurship. Although, in their study, Wang and Wong (2004, p. 170) mainly focused on personality characteristics of students, they also pointed out the fact that the entrepreneurial dreams of many students are hindered by inadequate preparation;...their business knowledge is insufficient, and more importantly, they are not prepared to take risk to realize their dreams.. Therefore, academic institutions might have critical roles in the encouragement of young people to choose an entrepreneurial career. However, they are sometimes accused of being too academic and encouraging entrepreneurship insufficiently (Gibb, 1993, 1996). In order to overcome this insufficiency, most universities have offered entrepreneurship courses or programs
6 at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In the literature, some studies analyse how these entrepreneurial interests of universities affect entrepreneurial inclination of students. The study of Gorman and Hanlon (1997) showed that entrepreneurial attributes can be positively influenced by educational programmes. In their study, Kolvereid and Moen (1997) also indicated a link between education in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behavior. Similarly, the study of Galloway and Brown (2002) analysed the impact of entrepreneurship electives and found that the return on investment in the entrepreneurship education might be long-term rather than immediate. It is clear that an effective education on entrepreneurship can be a factor to push people towards an entrepreneurial career (Henderson and Robertson, 2000). Based on the above discussion, it is hypothesized that: H1. Entrepreneurial intention of university students positively relates with perceived educational support. However, the level of self-confidence that is generally defined as believing in oneself may influence one s perception as well. Self-confidence is widely accepted as a valuable individual asset and a key to personal success. In their study, Bénabou and Tirole(2002) explained why an optimistic self-view is seen as a good thing. According to them, self-confidence is valuable because it makes people happier, it makes it easier to convince others (rightly or wrongly) and improves the individual s motivation to undertake projects and persevere in the pursuit of his goals (p.877). Based on this conceptualization, it might be expected that more self-confident people may perceive their environment more favourably than others and have more optimistic perspective about their future. Therefore, if a person has a high level of self-confidence, the strength of the proposed link between educational support and entrepreneurial intention may also increase. Based on this proposition, it is hypothesized that: H2. The strength of the relationship between entrepreneurial intention and perceived educational support is affected by the level of self-confidence. The second factor in the model is structural support. As it is indicated in the previous section, we are living in a broader context of social, cultural, economical, political and technological factors. The current context of entrepreneurship is mainly shaped by economical and political mechanisms, which are governed by the actors in the public, private, and non-governmental sectors. In such a system, there can be some opportunities or threats for entrepreneurs. For instance, if there are some barriers to entry into the market, people might show a lower tendency for entrepreneurship. However, if they find the given conditions adequate and favourable, it might be expected that they are more likely to start a business. Thus, it is hypothesized that: H3. Entrepreneurial intention relates with perceived structural support. However, as explained previously, this relation can be affected by the level of self-confident as well. Therefore, it is hypothesized that: H4. The strength of the relationship between entrepreneurial intention and perceived structural support is affected by the level of self-confidence. In the previous studies, family background is also taken into account as a factor affecting entrepreneurial intention. For instance, the study of Henderson and Entrepreneurial intention 147
7 JEIT 33,2 148 Robertson (2000) showed that family was the second factor influencing career choice of respondents after their personal experience. Therefore, the support of family and friends is likely to affect one s career selection. In the current study, this relational support mainly indicates the sentimental and monetary supports of family and friends. If someone knows that there will be such type of support when s/he starts a business, s/he might be encouraged to choose an entrepreneurial career. Therefore, based on the above discussion, it is hypothesized that: H5. The entrepreneurial intention positively relates to perceived relational support. However, this relation can be also affected by the level of self-confident. Therefore, it is hypothesized that: H6. The strength of the relationship between entrepreneurial intention and perceived relational support is affected by the level of self-confidence. The previous studies show that some variables might also affect entrepreneurial intention. For example, it is traditionally assumed that women have lower inclination to self-employment than men. The underlying argument of this assumption has been the greater number of male entrepreneurs, when comparing their female counterparts. However, especially during the recent years, entrepreneurship has been increasingly popular among women as well. Since there is still a debate on the impact of gender, it was taken as a control variable in the current study. Additionally, birth rank and work experience were also considered as control variables. 3. Research methodology 3.1 Questionnaire design The scale used in the current study is a slightly modified version of the scale of Turker et al. (2005). Turker et al. (2005) developed their scale based on the scale of Parnell et al. (1995), which was used to measure the impacts of self-confidence, perceived level of education, and perceived opportunities on entrepreneurial propensity. In their study, Turker et al. (2005) modified some items of this existing scale and added two new dimensions. In the current study, first some items of scale were modified in order to measure three dimensions of ESM. Then, some new items, which were derived from the scale of Lüthje and Franke (2003), were added to the scale. Therefore, a scale with nine items was obtained to measure three dimensions of ESM. In the study, entrepreneurial intention was measured through a statement of I plan to establish my own business in the foreseeable future after graduation. By this way, it can be possible to see the immediate effect of educational support factor. The level of self-confidence was measured through two statements: I am sure that I can accomplish every task successfully and I believe that I can manage a company successfully. As it can be noticed, the former measures one s present level of self-confidence, while the latter, which was derived from the scale of Parnell et al. (1995), measures the possibility of managing a company in the future. In the questionnaire, all responses were obtained on a 5-point Likert-type scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. 3.2 Data collection and descriptive statistics The population consisted of students in two state and two private universities in Turkey. In the study, 300 respondents were randomly selected according to the
8 proportions of these four universities. During the data collection process, the self-administered questionnaire, including a cover letter, was delivered to the respondents through the pollsters. The collected data were analysed through SPSS and Minitab. According to the results, approximately the half of respondents was female (49 percent) and mean value of age was Table I presents some background information about the respondents. Approximately 40 percent of respondents had an entrepreneur father and 14 percent of them had both entrepreneur father and mother. Entrepreneurial intention Results of analyses Factor analysis and reliability analysis. In the study, exploratory factor analysis was performed to determine the underlying factorial structure of the scale. The result of the analysis revealed three distinct factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0 (Table II). These subscales were labelled as perceived educational support (PES), perceived structural support (PSS), and perceived relational support (PRS). The internal consistencies of scale were assessed through computing Cronbach s alpha. Although generally agreed upon lower limit for Cronbach s alpha is 0.70, the decisions were taken based on the number of items, number of dimensions, and average inter-item correlations (Cortina, 1993). In the scale, the inter-item correlation is 0.28, and the scale includes 9 items in three dimensions. As there is 9 items in the scale, the suggested alpha level should be between 0.28 (r ¼ 0:30=6 items/3 dimensions) and 0.52 (r ¼ 0:30=12 items/3 dimensions) (Cortina, 1993). The Cronbach s alpha of the scale (0.50) is close to the upper limit Hierarchical regression analysis. Table III presents the correlations coefficient of dependent, independent, and moderating variables. The results indicated that the correlations coefficient between dependent and independent variables of PES, PSS, and PRS are 0.21, 0.15, and 0.06, respectively. The highest positive correlation was obtained between PRS and moderator variable. A three-stage hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to test hypotheses. Both the changes in R 2 and the levels of significance in the regression equations were used to determine the existence and strength of relations in the model. The results for H1 are shown in Table IV. In the first step, the control variables were entered into the prediction model and none of them emerged as significant factors. In the second step, the moderator variable and PES were entered into the model. Table IV shows that the adjusted R 2 explains 5 percent of the variance on the entrepreneurial intention and the R 2 change is 5.3 percent. Although the moderator variable is statistically insignificant, PES (b ¼ 0:210) is significant at the 0.01 level. Hence, H1 is supported. Entrepreneurial history % Type of education % Year of education % Father 40.3 Natural sciences 37.5 Freshmen 20.3 Mother 3.3 Social sciences 50.5 Sophomore 35.2 Brothers/sisters 4.7 Senior 9.3 Other 2.7 Type of university Work experience Nobody 33.0 Public university 66.4 Yes 39.5 Missing 1.7 Private university 33.2 No 60.2 Table I. Information about respondents
9 JEIT 33,2 150 Table II. Total variance explained and rotated factor loading matrix (VARIMAX) Factor Items Communalities Perceived Educational Support (PES) The education in university encourages me to develop creative ideas for being an entrepreneur My university provides the necessary knowledge about entrepreneurship My university develops my entrepreneurial skills and abilities Perceived Relational Support (PRS) If I decided to be an entrepreneur, my family members support me If I decided to be an entrepreneur, my friends support me Perceived Structural Support (PSS) In Turkey, entrepreneurs are encouraged by a structural system including private, public, and non-governmental organizations Turkish economy provides many opportunities for entrepreneurs Taking loans from banks is quite difficult for entrepreneurs in Turkey State laws (rules and regulations) are adverse to running a business Total Sum of squares (eigenvalues) Percentage of trace Note: Factor loadings less than 0.40 have not been printed and items have been sorted by loadings on each factor; Extraction method: principal component analysis/rotation method; Varimax with Kaiser normalization Variables Table III. Correlation matrix Dependent variable 1 EI Independent variables 2 PES ** 3 PSS * PRS Moderator variable 5 SLF * ** ** Notes: * Correlation is significant at p, 0.05; ** Correlation is significant at p, 0.01 The impact of moderator was tested by calculating interaction terms between PES and self-confidence. To determine this interaction effect, the joint effects of their scores (PES SLF) were entered into the model in the third step. However, the interaction variable is statistically insignificant and H2 is not supported. The same hierarchical regression procedure was conducted in the tests of the third and fourth hypotheses (Table V). After the application of first step, PSS and self confidence were entered into the model. The adjusted R 2 explains 4.4 percent of the variance on the entrepreneurial intention and the R 2 change is 4.6 percent.
10 Standardized coefficients t Unstandardized coefficients Model Variable Adjusted R 2 R 2 Change F change 1 Step Gender Year of education Type of education Type of university Work experience Entrepreneurial history * 2 Step ** ** Gender Year of education Type of education Type of university Work experience Entrepreneurial history * SLF PES ** 3 Step Gender Year of education Type of education Type of university Work experience Entrepreneurial history * SLF PES ** PES SLF Notes: * Significant at p, 0.05; ** Significant at p, 0.01 Entrepreneurial intention 151 Table IV. The results of hierarchical regression analysis for H1 and H2
11 JEIT 33,2 152 Table V. The results of hierarchical regression analysis for H3 and H4 Standardized coefficients t Unstandardized coefficients Model Variable Adjusted R 2 R 2 change F change 1 Step Step ** ** Gender * Year of education Type of education Type of university Work experience Entrepreneurial history * SLF * PSS ** 3 Step Gender Year of education Type of education Type of university Work experience Entrepreneurial history SLF * PSS ** PSS SLF Notes: * Significant at p, 0.05; ** Significant at p, 0.01
12 Additionally, the moderator variable (b ¼ 0:132) is significant at the 0.05 level. PSS (b ¼ 0:183) is also significant at the 0.05 level and this result provides support to H3. In the third step, the interaction variable of PSS and SLF (PSS SLF) was calculated and entered into the model. It is significant at 0.05 level and this result provides a support to H4. However, the slight difference in R 2 between the second and third steps indicates that the interaction variable explains only a small percentage of the variation on entrepreneurial intention. Table VI shows the results of hierarchical regression analyses for the fifth and sixth hypotheses. In the second step, PRS and the level of self confidence were entered into the model. However, both of them are statistically insignificant. Therefore, H5 is not supported. In the third step, the interaction variable of PRS and self-confidence (PRS SLF) was entered into the model. Since this variable is also statistically insignificant, H6 is not confirmed by the analysis. Entrepreneurial intention Limitations The current study is subject to some limitations. Firstly, similar to the previous studies in the literature, the study focuses on the intentionality. It is clear that intentions may not turn into actual behaviors in the future. Therefore, even if one respondent stated a high entrepreneurial intention in the survey, s/he might choose a completely different career path in the future. In fact, it has been a common problem for almost all study in the literature and currently there is no other accurate way to measure the tendency for entrepreneurship. Therefore, the statements of respondents about their entrepreneurial intention were taken as a reliable source of information. However, it might be more useful to measure this variable through multiple items in order to reduce measurement error in the further studies. Since the collected data was based on the perceptions of the students, a second limitation might appear on a possible difference between perceptions and reality. Obviously, there is always a risk that the perceptions of students on outside world might be different than the reality. The studies that aim to show such realities may indicate that, for instance, the universities are successful to stimulate entrepreneurship or financial system are supporting entrepreneurs sufficiently etc. These types of studies are highly valuable to take a picture of entrepreneurial environment. However, it is equally important to analyse how these given conditions are perceived by entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs even if they have limited knowledge of outside world. The current study aims to understand the perceptions of students on the context. Another limitation is that some factors in the model were broadly defined and so broadly measured in the survey. For instance, educational support factor were measured through three broad statements, which assess the education support for stimulating creative ideas, providing knowledge about entrepreneurship, and developing entrepreneurial skills and abilities. The main reason of such broadness is to increase the generalizability of the model and make it available for the use of new studies in different contexts. When considering the variety of entrepreneurship education in all around the world, it might be more reasonable to analyse the general nature of entrepreneurship education, rather than focusing on a specific context. As it is mentioned previously, there is a great variety among universities on the entrepreneurial education even in the same country (Gürol and Atsan, 2006, p. 27).
13 JEIT 33,2 154 Table VI. The results of hierarchical regression analysis for H5 and H6 Standardized coefficients t Unstandardized coefficients Model Variable Adjusted R 2 R 2 change F change 1 Step Step Gender Year of education Type of education Type of university Work experience Entrepreneurial history * SLF PRS Step Gender Year of education Type of education Type of university Work experience Entrepreneurial history * SLF PRS PRS SLF Notes: * Significant at p, 0.05; ** Significant at p, 0.01
14 Since the data were collected from a sample which was drawn from only one country, the results can be generalised only in this country. However, this limitation can be overcome with further studies. In particular, studies conducted in different countries may provide some cross-cultural differences and create new research questions. 5. Conclusions The results of survey revealed that only two subsets of proposed model were significant predictors of entrepreneurial intention. The first factor is educational support that indicates mainly a supportive university environment. According to the results, if a university provides adequate knowledge and inspiration for entrepreneurship, the possibility of choosing an entrepreneurial career might increase among young people. It is obvious that this result confirms the key role of education in the development of entrepreneurial intention. Therefore, in the light of the current study, it might be stated that entrepreneurship can be fostered as a result of a learning process. This result is not only interesting from the theoretical point of view, but it is also a challenge for the educators and policy-makers. Since entrepreneurial activities are becoming vital to the economic development of a country, both of these groups might focus on the design of more effective educational policies. Although there is no consensus on the content and structure of entrepreneurship education, the findings of current study showed that universities should, at least, encourage the development of creative ideas for being an entrepreneur, provide the necessary knowledge about entrepreneurship, and develop the entrepreneurial skills. However, the strength of the link between educational support and entrepreneurial intention was not affected by the level of self-confidence. Second factor, which also emerged significant in the survey, is structural support. It is obvious that fostering entrepreneurship requires a more comprehensive support including the collaboration of all sectors in the society. Despite its weak explanatory power, the analysis also showed that this type of structural support might affect entrepreneurial intention of university students. One of the interesting results in the study is the impact of moderating variable on the proposed link between perceived structural support and entrepreneurial intention. The hypothesis test confirmed that self-confident respondents perceive structural support more favourable than others. In this case, the level of self-confidence might affect one s perception on external environment. Although the structural conditions are similar for everyone living in the same context, the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors might vary. Therefore, the structural support for entrepreneurship is very significant to stimulate people to be an entrepreneur. Another interesting result of survey appears when comparing the explanatory powers of educational and structural supports; the former has slightly higher beta coefficient than the latter. In this case, educational support was perceived more important than structural support. The possible reason for this result might be the timing differences between these two support factors. It is clear that the main focus of structural support is existing entrepreneurs in the economy. Although students are currently aware of this support, they might think that this type of large scale supports will affect them in the future. On the other hand, educational support might be perceived as an immediate factor. Therefore, it is logical that the impact of educational support was higher than structural support. Entrepreneurial intention 155
15 JEIT 33,2 156 The third factor of model is perceived relational support. However, the result of analysis indicated that entrepreneurial intention was not associated with this dimension. In fact, this result is quite surprising for two reasons. Firstly, it might be expected that social ties are significant for a person living in a collectivist culture, like Turkey. Since people are more integrated into society, a career selection decision of a young person might be influenced by family members and friends. Secondly, the insufficient level of structural support in Turkey, when comparing with other developed countries, might be also expected to increase the importance of relational support especially on the financial matters. However, the result of survey showed that entrepreneurial intention of respondents was not affected by the support of their family and friends. Therefore, there is a need for further studies to clarify that point of the current study. In the current study, only family and friends are considered in the context of relational support. However, the growing literature on the mentoring emphasises the effective roles and supports of professional people in many areas. As it is indicated by Gregson (1994, p. 26), mentoring is an attempt to transfer experience and expertise from experienced individuals in an organization to the less experienced. Since it is quite difficult to find an entrepreneurship mentoring programme in Turkish universities, which are in the infancy stage in entrepreneurial education, the peer and mentoring supports were not considered in the current study. However, these relational supports can be also effective ways of developing human resources at the higher education (Jowett and Stead, 1994; Steward and Knowles, 2003). Therefore, it is strongly suggested to consider such factors in the further studies. In concluding, policy makers should give highest priority to the educational and structural supports to generate the entrepreneurs of future. However, based on the discussion above, the shortcomings of relational support might be overcome by designing and implementing new teaching methods like entrepreneurship mentoring programmes as well. References Ajzen, I. (1987), Attitudes, traits, and actions: dispositional prediction of behavior in personality and social psychology, in Berkowitz, L. (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 20, Academic Press, New York, NY, pp Ajzen, I. (1991), The theory of planned behavior, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 50 No. 2, pp Ajzen, I. and Fishbein, M. (1980), Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Ang, S.H. and Hong, D.G.P. (2000), Entrepreneurial spirit among East Asian Chinese, Thunderbird International Business Review, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp Autio, E., Keeley, R.H., Klofsten, M. and Ulfstedt, T. (1997), Entrepreneurial intent among students: testing an intent model in Asia, Scandinavia and USA, Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Babson Conference Proceedings, available at: edu/entrep/fer Baumol, W.J. (1968), Entrepreneurship in economic theory, The American Economic Review, Vol. 58 No. 2, pp Begley, T.M., Tan, W.L., Larasati, A.B., Rab, A. and Zamora, E. (1997), The relationship between socio-cultural dimensions and interest in starting a business: a multi-country
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18 Wang, C.K. and Wong, P.K. (2004), Entrepreneurial interest of university students in Singapore, Technovation, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp Wennekers, A.R.M. and Thurik, A.R. (1999), Linking entrepreneurship and economic growth, Small Business Economics, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp Zahra, S.A. (1999), The challenging rules of global competitiveness in the 21st century, Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp About the authors Duygu Turker has an M.Sc degree in Environmental Sciences from Ankara University and an MBA degree from Dokuz Eylul University. She is currently a lecturer at Yasar University and a PhD candidate in Public Administration at Dokuz Eylul University. During the academic year, she was a guest researcher at the University of Oslo and studied on a research project with the support of the Research Council of Norway. Her research interests include corporate social responsibility, business ethics, environmental management, and entrepreneurship. Duygu Turker is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: and Senem Sönmez Selcuk has a BSc degree in 2001 and MSc degree in 2004, from the Department of Public Administration of Dokuz Eylul University. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration of Dokuz Eylul University. She is, also, a lecturer at Yasar University. Her research interests include political sociology, identity, ethnic studies and minority, and women entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial intention 159 To purchase reprints of this article please Or visit our web site for further details: