- Evan J. Douglas (Sasin School of Management, Bangkok, Thailand; Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
- Dean A. Shepherd (University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA)
- Vidhula Venugopal (Indian Institute of Management, Nagpur, India)
This study develops a general model that explains the motivations for people who intend to become different types of entrepreneurs. Individuals are heterogeneous, and consequently, when it comes to entrepreneurial behavior, they seek out diverse entrepreneurial opportunities.
Researchers tend to split entrepreneurs into types, or a combination of types, and focus on the determinants of entrepreneurial intention, which later culminate in entrepreneurial action. They pay the most attention to commercial and social entrepreneurs but have also investigated other types such as technology entrepreneurs, lifestyle entrepreneurs, sustainability entrepreneurs, senior entrepreneurs, mum-preneurs, refugee-preneurs, and so on.
As a result of focusing on specific entrepreneur types and limited hybrid types, the literature explaining individual entrepreneurial intention is highly fragmented. This restricts the crossflow of information and obstructs the development of a theory to explain entrepreneurial heterogeneity.
To fix this, the authors developed and tested a general model that explains different types of entrepreneurial intention and allows better comparison and analysis between the types on a common conceptual basis. It is a more holistic approach, leading to a more in-depth understanding of the “big picture”.
The authors theorize there are three core outcomes of entrepreneurial behavior – profit, social impact, and innovation – and pursuit of these outcomes motivates individuals to be either primarily profit-seeking, social-impact seeking, or innovation-seeking, depending on their relative preferences for these core outcomes. Considering these three interdependent outcomes of entrepreneurship in a holistic approach and using a novel analytical method allows the identification of multiple pathways to entrepreneurship which suit the preferences of diverse individuals.
These core outcomes of entrepreneurship are important for personal wellbeing, community economic and social welfare, and national and global technological advancement. Additionally, examining new ventures within a holistic model of entrepreneurial heterogeneity allows them to be evaluated in a common framework and facilitate more effective allocation of the limited private and public funding for new entrepreneurial ventures.
Previous research and studies into entrepreneurial intention (EI) have used a simplified linear-additive model of the determinants of a particular entrepreneur type. In developing the holistic model of EI, the authors used the relatively new fsQCA method to reveal the different entrepreneur types as outputs of the general model rather than a collection of narrower models of entrepreneur types.
Whereas prior literature on EI formation tends to link the decision to be an entrepreneur with the decision to be a specific type of entrepreneur, in this study a two-step decision is modelled – the generic entrepreneurial intention (GEI), is followed by a decision on the type. The preferred entrepreneur type depends on individual preference for each of the three core outcomes, coupled with the belief that attainment of the outcomes is feasible.
The empirical study surveyed 324 individuals with an average age of 35. The data collection and analysis are explained in detail, with the results further explained in a series of tables, followed by discussion and post hoc analysis of the findings.
The research finds various configurations of EI for the primary purpose and hybrid entrepreneur types found in the literature. The study also found several anomalies which were investigated in an abductive theory building exercise, culminating in a series of testable research propositions.
These anomalies include individuals forming EI despite lacking self-confidence in important management sub-domains, such as marketing, people management, or financial management. Instead, these individuals apparently rely on their networks, management teams, or advisory board members to assist them.
The authors also propose that hubris in the young substitutes for managerial confidence and that there are more older males than females due to legacy effects of societal gender expectations – although females lessen this disparity with higher education and greater business experience.
The paper contributes to the literature by offering a holistic two-step model that focuses on three core motivations for entrepreneurship. This allows for multiple entrepreneur types within the same framework, facilitating analysis and comparison of the behavioral and societal outcomes between the types.
Additionally, using the fsQCA analytic method reveals more information about the decision-making conditions that drive the individual’s entrepreneurial intention and their preferred pathway to entrepreneurial action.
Finally, the study contributes to our understanding of entrepreneurial motivation by including an expanded notion of the perceived desirability and feasibility of entrepreneurial behavior. This provides a more nuanced explanation for the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial behavior.
The paper is published in the Journal of Business Venturing. The full version of this article is available on ScienceDirect.