Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Understanding the Motivation that Shapes Entrepreneurship Career Intention

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Ng Kim-Soon, Abdul Rahman Ahmad and Nurul Nadia Ibrahim

Submitted: July 10th, 2017 Reviewed: September 1st, 2017 Published: January 24th, 2018

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70786

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Entrepreneurship intention for graduate students like many other job and work career options depends on other considerations. Individuals who pursue their intentions are most likely to implement their intention. Interest in entrepreneurship as career appears to be growing. Reviews show the need in investigating the determinants of entrepreneurship as a career intention of students and it has remains the focus of most of the recent studies. This is due to the facts that entrepreneurs are creating jobs and driving economic development of a nation. In this study, the Theory of Planned Behaviour is applied to investigate students’ entrepreneurial motivation and entrepreneurship intention. A total of 413 sets of completed questionnaire collected using the structured sampling methodology from the various faculties, races and student seniority at a University located in Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia were used in the analyses. The factors of entrepreneurial motivation affecting career entrepreneurship intention were found to be behavioural control, subjective norm, and attitude towards entrepreneurship. Behavioural control is found to be at a very good level while subjective norm and attitude towards entrepreneurship are both at a good level. Multiple regression analyses indicated that subjective norm and attitude of self-employment are both significantly related to student immediate and future entrepreneurship intentions. The behavioural control entrepreneurial motivation indicated significant relationship with student immediate career intention. However it was found that it is not related to entrepreneurship career intention. This study implies that young aspirant entrepreneur can be identified and targeted for development via the Planned Behaviour model for entrepreneurial interventions initiatives.


  • entrepreneur
  • entrepreneurial motivation
  • planned behaviour model

1. Introduction

Entrepreneurship creates jobs, economic growth and development of a nation. It is crucial to drive a nation’s economy. An entrepreneur setup a new business, take risk and faces uncertainty to make profit and grow the business by identifying available opportunities, gather the necessary resources to exploit those opportunities that were identified [1]. Entrepreneurs prefer to be in control of their own resources, prefer to take calculated risk, and possesses attributes of confidence and belief in self, self-reliance, perseverance, traits for immediate feedback, with higher level of energy which are usually higher than the average person. They dream big and are achievement motivated. Karimi et al. [2] and Souitaris et al. [3] reviewed that literature revealed that more research works are needed to investigate the determinants of entrepreneurship intentions of students. Entrepreneurial motivation is not the same as “uniquely entrepreneurial personality traits”. Carsrud and Brännback [4] further reiterated that entrepreneurship motivation is a crucial topic and there is a need for more entrepreneur research work. Carsrud et al. [5] and Edelman et al. [6] reported that it is a much neglected area of research. This is most previous researchers assumed that entrepreneur can be adequately defined by identifying the unique personality traits [4]. Nevertheless, due to its significant thrust to the economic growth and development to a nation, investigating the determinants of entrepreneurship intentions as a career intention of students has remains the focus of most of the recent studies. This study investigated the levels of student’s entrepreneurial motivation and entrepreneurship intention at a public University and the relationship between these two factors using the Planned Behaviour Model.


2. Literature review

Policy makers are emphasising the importance entrepreneurship education to groom and nurture entrepreneurship among students for career employability in the drive for economic growth [7]. Entrepreneurial process emphasises on the behavioural linkage of entrepreneurship intentions, ideas and action [8, 9]. The theory of planned behaviour set that an individual’s intention towards an activity with perceived behavioural control will be able to predict the behaviour accurately [8]. According to Krueger et al. [10], intention is a single best predictor of planned behaviour.

2.1. Behavioural theory

Expectancy Theory has instituted a common line in relating the various process-oriented explanations of entrepreneurial motivation (Vroom, 1964). Vroom (1964) theorised that an individual will make the best choice through the behaviour that will lead to the most anticipated outcome. The underlying factors that influence such a behaviour are the motivation factors [8]. These motivational factors comprise of individual’s attitude towards the behaviour, subjective norm and perceived control are the factors of the planned behaviour (TPB) model and are assumed to influence and shape the behavioural intention. Attitude impacts on behaviour beliefs. An individual with a higher attitude towards the behaviour is expected to be more likely to take the action that is being monitored [11]. The individuals’ perceptions of values, beliefs and norms of influential individuals including family members, teachers, other entrepreneurs, friends etc. are subjective norms which are important to the individual’s desire to conform to those norms. Thus, it follows that an individual intention towards entrepreneurship can be moulded. Cieślik and Stel [12] found significant relationship between those students who are actively involved in their parents’ business are more likely to join their family business rather than starting their own business. Conversely, Krueger et al. [10] claimed that an individual having high internal locus of control, social norms are less predictive of intentions. [8] contended that behavioural control influences an individual’s intention to act basing perceived degree of effort of that specific behaviour which conceptually is alike to the Social Cognitive Theory [13] of an individual’s belief in their capability to perform a specified action.

2.2. Entrepreneurial motivation

Motivation is a potent driver behind goal pursuit in daily lives. According to Ryan and Deci [14], it’s the core of biological, cognitive, and social regulation [14]. It channels energy, direction, determination, persistence and intention behind daily lives pursuits. Goals and motives are able to predict human behaviour. Thus, the linkage between intentions, motivations, and behaviour. Motivation drives actions and the reason behind actions is the orientation of the motivation. Krueger and Carsrud [9] reported that there is a lack of basis to support on intention-action linkage although intentions have been centred as predictors of future action. The link has been used loosely as implied or assumed. They then argued that motivation provides the link between intension-action. According to Edelman et al. [6], motivations stimulus could transform a latent intention to drive entrepreneurship. They reiterated that it could be the link between intentions and action. It thus suggests that the causal attitudes and goal of entrepreneurial motivation is able to generate entrepreneurship intention. Edelman et al. [6] reiterated that more research work in this area is needed.

2.3. Entrepreneurship career intention

Higher education institutions are actively promoting entrepreneurship as an attractive and worthwhile career option among graduate students. Entrepreneurship offers graduate student self-employment opportunity. Literature has frequently states that it is a career option for the youth and graduates [15, 16]. It lessens social ills and improve employability. Public policy makers are encouraging and engaging graduates from higher learning institutions to choose entrepreneurship to address employability [7]. It has thus resulted in the focus of research works on entrepreneurship career intention especially in how attract graduate students to engage in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial career intention is the conscious state of mind. It precedes the action of an individual and directs the attention towards an entrepreneurial career goal to start a new business ([10, 17, 18]). Krueger et al. [10] envisaged that entrepreneurial inclination can be better determined through entrepreneurship intention rather than personality traits, demographic characteristics, or situational factors. Individuals who pursue their intentions are most likely to implement their intention [19]. Intension such as desire to gain status, to be success and ability to influence economic growth which Geri (2013) elaborated has a positive relation between risk taking tendencies and entrepreneurial motives (Artess et al. [20]).

Empirical research works by Kim-Soon et al. [21] on motivators and obstacles to youth entrepreneurship with entrepreneurial intention of young entrepreneurs reported that youths who are serious as would be entrepreneur to start and own a new business can be identified and targeted to develop via government entrepreneurship intervention initiatives. Ajzen’s model of planned behaviour and Engle et al. [22] found that social norm is a strong and consistent predictor of intentions. They reported that the attitude towards the behaviour, subjective norm, and perceived behavioural control significantly increased the likelihood of students that are inclined towards the formation of entrepreneurial intentions. Ummah [23] recommended that decision makers in higher education and nation policy makers should use the factors influencing the desirability of self-employment to channel and energise an individual intention towards self-employment. Fitzsimmons and Douglas [24] reported that a person’s perceived desirability and perceived feasibility had a negative interaction effect in the formation of entrepreneurial intentions. In line with a prevention-focused orientation, they suggest that situational factors may induce individuals involved in the process of forming entrepreneurial intentions to adopt a prevention focus.

2.4. Entrepreneurial motivation and entrepreneurship career intentions

TPB model has been used by Malebana [25] to investigate entrepreneurship intention of students study in a South African rural university and reported that most of the students would start a business in the future. Most researchers are in consensus that the relevant embedded theory underlying the research work on entrepreneurship intention is the planned behaviour [10, 26, 27]. TPB model is useful for instituting and guiding behavioural changes by evaluating the behavioural performance [28, 29]. In recent years, researchers have popularly used the theory of planned behaviour under various contexts to investigate and research on motivation and predicting entrepreneurial intentions ([16, 25, 30, 31]; Ritzsimmons and Douglas, 2011; [22, 32]).


3. Research methodology and findings

3.1. Research framework

The research framework of this study is modelled on the Theory of Planned Behaviour which is frequently been used in the prediction of behavioural intention. The independent variables are the entrepreneurial motivational factors which are comprised of attitude towards self-employment, subjective norm, and behavioural control while the dependent variable is entrepreneurial intention.

3.2. Questionnaire design, measurement and sample size

The survey questionnaire used in this research comprised of three parts. Part A is questions that require the respondents to provide their background. Part B is on entrepreneurial motivational factors comprises of questions about attitude towards self-employment, subjective norm, and behavioural control. The respondents were required to mark the level of their agreement of the statements about their motivation to choose entrepreneurship as their career by circling on a scale 1 to 5 where 1 = Strongly disagree 2 = Disagree 3 = Not Sure 4 = Agree 5 = Strongly agree for each of the respective statements. Part C requires the respondent to mark their degree of entrepreneurship intention by rating the level of agreement on scale 1 to 5 (1 = Strongly disagree 2 = Disagree 3 = Not Sure 4 = Agree 5 = Strongly agree) through circling the number for each of the respective statements. The statements in Section B and Section C were adapted from the questionnaire used by Fatoki [32]. A pilot study was conducted to test the developed questionnaire with a sample of 30 respondents for factor reduction and reliability of the measures of items in Part B and Part C of the questionnaire prior to the research data collection process.

The sample size of this research is 450. This is based on the population size of 14,000 students pursuing the degree course at the selected inside the campus of a Public University. With reference to the Krejcie and Morgan [33] table, the sample size is slightly larger. The convenient and structured random sampling method has been used to collect the data the respondents from the various faculties, the different races and genders, years of studies and seniority. Upon cleaning the dataset, a total of 413 (92%) duly completed questionnaires conforming to the requirements of more than 70 to 80% return of the questionnaire [34] were used for the analysis.

3.3. Scope of study and profile of respondents

Table 1 tabulates the demographic profile of the respondents. The estimated number of students in the table is based on the random sample structure proportionately to the distribution of the population of the respective demographic categories.

Gendera. Male20649.9
b. Female20750.1
Age (years)a. 19 to 2018043.6
b. 21 to 2210926.4
c. 23 to 2712430.0
Facultya. FPTPK8520.6
b. FSKTM5814.0
c. FKMP8219.9
d. FKEE7818.9
e. FKAAS8921.5
f. FTE215.1
Seniority at UTHMa. Degree year 112129.6
b. Degree year 210024.2
c. Degree year 310324.9
d. Degree year 48321.5
Racea. Malay23155.9
b. Chinese10024.2
c. Indian4510.9
d. International student379.0

Table 1.

Profile of the respondents (N = 413).

3.4. Factor analysis

The results of factor analysis using Principle Component Analysis with Varimax Rotation tabulated in Tables 2 and 3. KMO (Measure of Sampling Adequacy) with outliers of loading of less than 0.5 were removed to achieve clearer separation of factors, and only Eigenvalues above one were accepted [35].

Dimension on motivation to choose entrepreneur as a careerFactor loading
Factor 1Factor 2Factor 3
Behavioural control (Self-efficacy beliefs)
1.To be my own boss.821.226.152
2.To realise my dream.697.266.204
3.Increase my prestige and status.696.300.151
4.For my personal freedom.694.099.356
5.Enjoy myself.638.306.147
6.Good economic environment.618.368.240
7.To challenge myself.616.337.316
8.For my own satisfaction and growth.577.346.295
Subjective norm (Tolerance for risk)
1.To use the skill learned in the university.136.755.332
2.Entrepreneurial family culture.349.750−.010
3.Follow the example of someone that I admired.410.690.084
4.To invest personal savings.171.671.377
5.To maintain my family.484.655.102
6.I enjoy taking risk.212.637.195
Attitude (desirability) towards self-employment
1.To provide job security−.029.381.762
2.To provide employment.196.228.735
3.To take advantage of my creative talent.396.054.703
4.Earn a reasonable living.476.104.683
5.Opportunities in the market.462.177.613
Reliability (alpha)0.900.870.85
Eigen value4.604.053.39
Percentage variance explained46.967.907.12
Total variance explained61.98
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy0.92

Table 2.

Factor and reliability analyses on motivation to choose entrepreneur as a career.

Note: extraction method: principal component analysis. Rotation method: Varimax with Kaiser normalisation. Bartlett’s test of Sphericity Sig. at p < 0.001.

Dimension of entrepreneurship career intentionFactor loading
Immediate term intention
1. I prefer to be an entrepreneur rather than to be an employee in a company.850.057
2. I am prepared to do anything to be an entrepreneur.793.263
3. I am very interested to be an entrepreneur.777.245
4. I shall work very hard at becoming an entrepreneur.717.243
5. I have already prepared myself to become an entrepreneur.707.364
6. My professional goal is to become an entrepreneur.704.209
7. I’ll put every effort to start and run my own business.659.336
8. I have thought seriously to start my own business after completing my study.652.479
9. I want to be my own boss.538.399
Future intention
1. I’m determined to create a firm in the future.292.833
2. I will start my business in the next 10 years.076.787
3. I have strong intention to start a business someday.340.713
Reliability (alpha)0.920.78
Percentage variance explained53.119.41
Total variance explained62.57
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy.0.91

Table 3.

Factor and reliability analyses on entrepreneurship career intention.

Note: extraction method: principal component analysis. Rotation method: Varimax with Kaiser normalisation. Bartlett’s test of Sphericity Sig. at p < 0.001.

The dimensions on student’s motivation to choose entrepreneur are comprise of behavioural control, subjective norm and attitude towards self-employment while dimensions measuring student’s entrepreneur career intention are comprise of immediate intention and future entrepreneurship intention.

3.5. Levels of attitude towards self-employment, subjective norm and behavioural control motivations, and entrepreneurial intention

Table 4 tabulates results on the levels of attitude towards self-employment, subjective norm and behavioural control motivations, and entrepreneurial intention. The level of behavioural control entrepreneurial motivation indicates that it is very good level while subjective norm and attitude on self-employment entrepreneurial motivations are at good level. Entrepreneurship intention for both immediate term and future intention to be an entrepreneur are all rated as good level.

VariableDimensionNo. of itemsMeanStd. Dev.Level
1Entrepreneurial motivational factorsa.Behavioural control83.810.72Very good
b.Subjective norm (Tolerance for risk)63.620.77Good
c.Attitude on self-employment (Desirability)53.660.68Good
2Entrepreneurship career intentiona.Entrepreneur immediate term career intention93.340.77Good
b.Entrepreneur career intention in the future33.340.81Good

Table 4.

Mean of variables and levels of motivational factors (attitude towards self-employment, subjective norm, behavioural control) and entrepreneurship intention with their standard deviation.

Note: (N = 413); Range is based on Likert Scale of 1 to 5 where 1.00–2.33 = Low; 2.34–3.66 Good and 3.67–5.00 = Very Good).

3.6. Relationships of entrepreneurial motivation and entrepreneurship intension

3.6.1. Correlations analysis

The results the correlations results among the variables is tabulated in Table 5. It shows that correlation (p < .01) exist between the factors of entrepreneurial motivation with both immediate and future entrepreneurship among the students. The Correlation Coefficient with r = +.70 or higher between the two variables indicates very strong positive relationship, while a value of +.40 to +.69 indicates strong positive relationship and value of +.30 to +.39 shows moderate positive relationship. Thus, all the relationships between the respective variables indicated very strongly positive relationship at significant level of p < 0.01.

DimensionEntrepreneurial motivationEntrepreneurship intention
Factors1a. Behavioural control1b. Subjective norm1c. Attitude on self-employment2b. Immediate intention2b. Future intention
1aBehavioural control1.714**.665**.549**.490**
1bSubjective norm.714**1.564**.552**.652**
1cAttitude on self-employment.665**.564**1.576**.498**
2aImmediate intention.549**.552**.576**1.616**
2bFuture intention.490**.652**.498**.616**1

Table 5.

Pearson correlations (N = 413) among variables.

Note: **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

3.6.2. The variations between entrepreneurial motivational factors and entrepreneurial intention

Figures 15 illustrate the how the variation of entrepreneurial motivation factors influences on students’ entrepreneurship career intentions. In Figure 1, it shows that when the value of motivation is low then the entrepreneurship career intention is also low, when the motivation is moderate, the intention of entrepreneurship career is also moderate and when the entrepreneurial motivation is high, the entrepreneurship career intention is also at a high level too. This trends are also illustrated for all the other factors of entrepreneurial motivation as in Figure 2 for education levels with entrepreneurship career intention, Figure 3 for entrepreneurial personal characteristic on entrepreneurship career intentions, Figure 4 for personality with entrepreneurship career intention and in Figure 5, the variation of personal satisfaction with entrepreneurship career intention. It thus indicate that higher level of factors of entrepreneurial motivation influences entrepreneurship career intention.

Figure 1.

The variation between motivations with entrepreneurship career intention.

Figure 2.

The variation between educational levels with entrepreneurship career intention.

Figure 3.

The variation of entrepreneurship personal characteristic on entrepreneurial intention.

Figure 4.

The variation of personality with entrepreneurial intention.

Figure 5.

The variation of personal satisfaction with entrepreneurial intention.

3.6.3. Regression of entrepreneurial motivation and entrepreneurship career intension

The model summary of predicting the statistical relationships and explains the underlying relationships between entrepreneurial motivation with immediate entrepreneurship career intension is presented in Table 6. The coefficient of determination is .42 indicates that 42% of the variance in the immediate entrepreneurship career intension (dependent variable) is explained by the 3 motivational factors. The standardised coefficient behavioural control is .137 at p < .05, subjective control is .226 and attitude is .335 contributed significantly to the variance explained. The F change (p < 0.001) indicates that variance was significantly explained by the model. The Durbin Watson value of 1.76 shows that the result of regression model is valid.

Independent VariablesBeta standardised
Model variables
Behavioural control (self-efficacy beliefs).137**
Subjective norm (Tolerance for risk).266***
Attitude (Desirability) of self-employment.335***
Adj. R2.41
R2 change.42
F change96.68***

Table 6.

The effect of entrepreneurial motivation on immediate entrepreneurship career intention.

Note: ***Sig. at .001 **Sig. at .05.

Table 7 shows that the 2 motivational factors explain 45% of the variance of future entrepreneurship career intension. Subjective norm motivational factor with a standardised coefficient of .577 is significant at p < .001, and attitude with .216 is significantly contributing to the variance explained at p < .001 level. However, the behavioural control motivational factor is not significant. The significant F change value at p < 0.001 indicates that variance was significantly explained by the model. The Durbin Watson value of 1.77 shows that the result of regression model is valid.

Independent VariablesBeta standardised
Model variables
Behavioural control (self-efficacy beliefs)−.066
Subjective norm (Tolerance for risk).577***
Attitude (Desirability) of self-employment.216***
Adj. R2.45
R2 change.45
F change112.14***

Table 7.

The effect of entrepreneurial motivation on future entrepreneurship career intention.

Note: ***sig. At .001.


4. Discussion

Demographic elements including gender, age, and religion affect entrepreneurship intention [36]. Thus, in the present study, data on the gender, age, seniority at the University, faculty and race are being controlled to reduce its influences the results. Entrepreneurship education has been found to be able reduce reducing graduate unemployment [37]. Thus, entrepreneurial education should be introduced into the tertiary institutions that are not currently offering entrepreneurship courses (Samuel et al. [36] to equip students that possess competencies for job creation and self-employment. Thus, universities should explore the offering a wide range of entrepreneurship development activities to groom and nurture entrepreneur, seek practices that train and re-orientate students to embrace a more clearly defined element of personal and career development, human resource capacity building and academia development of the university. This will also create the opportunity to mould key entrepreneurial behaviours and practices through Centre of Excellence, the engagement of corporate entrepreneurship development, entrepreneurship curriculum besides the requirement that all undergraduates need to take at least a subject on entrepreneurship in their respective degree programme.

In this study, the levels of motivational factors which are attitude towards self-employment, subjective norm and behavioural control, and entrepreneurial intention are all rated good. This is in effect different from the finding by Fatoki [32] which reported weak results. The current research found that the variance of future entrepreneurship career intension (dependent variable) is explained by only the 2 motivational factors, the subjective norm and attitude motivational factors with the non-significant factor of behavioural control motivation. Nevertheless, all the three factors of entrepreneurial motivation are related to the immediate entrepreneurship career intension significantly. Biraglia and Kadile [38] found that an individual must feel self-efficacious enough to pursue entrepreneurial career. Universities entrepreneurship and curricular development programmes are crucial to assist students to acquire increased understanding of entrepreneurship. Thus, in elevating low entrepreneurial intention among African students, Fatoki [32] suggested that motivators must be reinforced and the organising practical trainings for students involved in entrepreneurship education or who would like to be involved in entrepreneurial practices, non-governmental organisations should be well funded through local and international grants to help with the training need of graduate entrepreneurship, training seminars can also be organised regularly to students as well as a “learning from peers” or mentorship approach can be instituted by government agencies to help students to get involved in entrepreneurship trainings at tertiary institutions. There are other research works that reported entrepreneurship education programs are not successful to develop students’ entrepreneurial capabilities as an entrepreneur [39, 40, 41]. In this sense, this study has reiterated and supported the argument by Linan et al. [42] that individuals having the necessary entrepreneurial competencies will favour entrepreneurial behaviour if those close to them are supportive and valued entrepreneurship positively. This has thus supported the call by Kim-Soon et al. [21] that authorities should identify and target those youths who are really serious to venture into entrepreneurship and own a business to be developed through entrepreneurship interventions initiatives.


5. Conclusion

Entrepreneurship is crucial to new business start-ups, developing existing businesses, job creation and economic growth. At the higher learning institutions entrepreneurship skills, knowledge and behaviours are integrated across its curriculum. The level of behavioural control of entrepreneurial motivation at in this study conducted at a public university has been rated very good, subjective norm and attitude towards entrepreneurship are both at good level.

The result of regression analysis indicated that the motivation in choosing entrepreneurship as a career option among the students is positively and significantly related with entrepreneurship intention statistically. The entrepreneurial motivation factors affecting career intention to be an entrepreneur are the social norms comprising of individual perception of the significance of how others value and support the establishment of a new business), subjective norm (individual perceptions of their abilities and tolerance to perform entrepreneurial tasks), and attitude towards behaviour (individual awareness of the importance and value of entrepreneurship) entrepreneurial motivations. Subjective norm (tolerance for risk) and attitude (desirability) of self-employment are significantly related to the student’s immediate and future intention to be an entrepreneur. However, behavioural control entrepreneurial motivation is found to be significantly related to the student’s immediate career intention but not significantly related to the student’s future entrepreneurship career intention in this study. This could be argued using Krueger et al. [10] argument that individuals with high internal locus of control, social norms are less predictive of intentions. Behavioural control influences an individual’s intention of action basing perception of degree of difficulty of performance of that specific behaviour [8]. This conceptually is similar Bandura’s [13] Social Cognitive Theory explaining how an individual’s belief in their abilities to perform a specified action.

Universities have put much effort to raise the profile of graduate entrepreneurship and to attract graduate students to seriously engage in entrepreneurship. Whether it is technical engineering or the non-engineering programmes, the antecedents of entrepreneurship intention should be embedded into entrepreneurship curriculum and pedagogical strategy and be a component to the main programme. Entrepreneurship is crucial to the future career, economy and social development necessary for nation building. Creating opportunity for practice of key entrepreneurial behaviours is seen as being crucial in cultivating entrepreneurial behaviours. This study supported the This has thus supported the call that authorities should identify and target those youths who are really serious to venture into entrepreneurship and own a business to be developed through entrepreneurship interventions initiatives.


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Written By

Ng Kim-Soon, Abdul Rahman Ahmad and Nurul Nadia Ibrahim

Submitted: July 10th, 2017 Reviewed: September 1st, 2017 Published: January 24th, 2018