Personality or environment? A comprehensive study on the entrepreneurial intentions of university studentsEducation + Training


Harun Sesen
Education / Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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Personality or environment?

A comprehensive study on the entrepreneurial intentions of university students

Harun Sesen

Business Department, Turkish Military Academy, Ankara, Turkey


Purpose – This paper aims to describe and empirically test a comprehensive model on the entrepreneurial intentions of the university students in which some individual and environmental factors were included. Also, the strengths of individual and environmental factors’ influence are compared.

Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire survey was completed by a random sample (n¼ 356) of business administration, health sciences and law faculty students across two Turkish universities. Results were based on correlation and regression analysis.

Findings – Results indicate that as individual factors locus of control and entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE) and as environmental ones social network and access to capital have significant impacts on entrepreneurial intentions of students. However, the results showed that the university environment does not have any significant impact.

Research limitations/implications – Self-report bias and cross-sectional data are possible limitations. Longitudinal studies in the future may have different results.

Originality/value – The paper demonstrates that ESE is the most important factor on the entrepreneurial intention and besides social network contributes as the second factor. Also it puts personality as the dominant factor of entrepreneurial intention of students. However, paper introduces that the university environment does not have any significant impact on the entrepreneurial intentions.

This result adds to the academic literature on entrepreneurial intention and offers several implications especially for university directors about entrepreneurship education.

Keywords Entrepreneurial intention, Self-efficacy, University environment,

Entrepreneurship education, Universities, Turkey

Paper type Research paper


Across virtually all periods of human history, entrepreneurship has served an important function in the progress of the modern civilization (Shane and

Venkataraman, 2000). Entrepreneurship has become more important than ever in recent years, and it has received attention as a leading factor in achieving economic growth, high employment, strong job creation, and positive social development (Acs et al., 2005).

As one of the basic impulsive forces of capitalism, entrepreneurship has long attracted the attention of economists, but the globalization of business has made it a main research interest of many other disciplines. The strengthening of small and medium-size enterprises via globalization, continuous changes to the restrictions, and incentives these enterprises face, the establishment of niche markets, the new

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

Received 17 May 2012

Revised 13 July 2012 23 August 2012 9 November 2012

Accepted 15 November 2012

Education þ Training

Vol. 55 No. 7, 2013 pp. 624-640 r Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0040-0912

DOI 10.1108/ET-05-2012-0059

This research is funded by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). 624

ET 55,7 business opportunities afforded by information technology, and the expansion of the market to a truly global scale for local, small-sized firms with the help of high technology have all acted to ensure entrepreneurship remains an important subject of study.

Although some researchers have viewed entrepreneurship as an innate behaviour (e.g. Thompson, 1999), many others believe it is an attitude that can be learned (e.g. Robinson and Hayes, 1991; Solomon et al., 2002). University students at the beginning of their entrepreneurial careers and working lives therefore arose as an ideal sample for studies of entrepreneurial intention. In this context, previous research has focused on many demographic, individual, and environmental factors in investigating the entrepreneurial intentions of university students. In most of those studies, however, the antecedents of entrepreneurial intention were handled as separate factors and very few studies attempted to test inclusive or comparative models.

The current study has two main objectives in this regard. First, this study explores the antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions in a comprehensive model and attempts to determine the strengths of the impacts various personality traits and environmental factors have on entrepreneurial intentions. Previous research has focused on many antecedents but has not compared the impacts of personality and contextual elements.

Second, this study tests a model that combines personality traits and perceived contextual factors. As Nabi et al. (2010) have stated, there are three basic approaches which are followed in the majority of studies into entrepreneurial intentions: (1) Shapero’s model of the entrepreneurial event (SEE); (2) Ajzen’s theory of planned behaviour (TPB); and (3) Lu¨thje and Franke’s model (LFM). Shapero’s and Ajzen’s models, respectively, have been tested in a number of studies (e.g. Carr and Sequeira, 2007; Engle et al., 2010; Fitzsimmons and Douglas, 2011; Iakovleva et al., 2011; Linan et al., 2011; Shook and Bratianu, 2010; Tkachev and Kolvereid, 1999; Van Gelderen et al., 2008). As a more recent approach, however, LFM has been applied in only a select few studies (e.g. Franke and Lu¨thje, 2004; Kristiansen and Indarti, 2004; Lu¨thje and

Franke, 2003; Schwarz et al., 2009), although this model provides a broad framework with which to evaluate the antecedents of entrepreneurial intention (Nabi et al., 2010).

The present study therefore tries to expand upon our knowledge of the antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions by applying the LFM.

This study is comprised of four main parts. Following the introduction, the paper begins with a brief review of the literature that has investigated entrepreneurial intention, and then considers personality traits and environmental factors as the antecedents of such intentions. The third part presents the method used and the research findings; the fourth part provides discussion and conclusions.