Entrepreneurial intention and entrepreneurial behaviour
: a social psychological perspective

  • Mohammed Shamsul Karim

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Increasing the supply of entrepreneurs reduces unemployment and accelerates economic growth (Acs, 2006; Audretsch, 2007; Santarelli et el. 2009; Campbell, 1996; Carree & Thurik, 1996). The supply of entrepreneurs depends on the entrepreneurial intention and activity of the people (Kruger & Brazeal, 1994). Existing behavioural theories explain that entrepreneurial activity is an attitude driven process which is mediated by intention and regulated by behavioural control. These theories are: Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991; 2002, 2012); Entrepreneurial Event Model (Shapiro & Shokol, 1982), and Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1977; 1986; 2012). Meta-analysis of existing behavioural theories in different fields found that the theories are more effective to analyse behavioural intention and habitual behaviour, but less effective to analyse long-term and risky behaviour (McEachan et al., 2011). The objective of this dissertation is to improve entrepreneurship behaviour theory to advance our understanding of the determinants of the entrepreneurial intention and activity. To achieve this objective we asked three compelling questions in our research. These are: Firstly, why do differences exist in entrepreneurship among age groups. Secondly, how can we improve the theory to analyse entrepreneurial intention and behaviour? And, thirdly, is there any relationship between counterfactual or regretful thinking and entrepreneurial intention? We address these three questions in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of the dissertation. Earlier studies have identified that there is an inverse U shaped relationship between age and entrepreneurship (Parker, 2004; Hart et al., 2004). In our study, we explain the reasons for this inverse U shape (Chapter 2). To analyse the reasons we use Cognitive Life Cycle theory and Disuse theory. We assume that the stage in the life cycle of an individual moderates the influence of opportunity identification and skill to start a business. In our study, we analyse the moderation effect in early stage entrepreneurship and in serial entrepreneurship. In Chapter 3, the limitations of existing psychological theories are discussed, and a competency value theory of entrepreneurship (CVTE) is proposed to overcome the limitations and extend existing theories. We use a ‘weighted competency’ variable instead of a ‘perceived behavioural control’ variable for the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and self-efficacy variable for social cognitive theory. Weighted competency is the perceived competency ranking assigned by an individual for his total competencies to be an entrepreneur. The proposed theory was tested in a pilot survey in the UK and in a national adult population survey in a South Asian Country. The results show a significant relationship between competencies and entrepreneurial intention, and weighted competencies and entrepreneurial behaviour as per CVTE. To improve the theory further, in Chapter 4, we test the relationship between counterfactual thinking and entrepreneurial intention. Studies in cognitive psychology identify that ‘upward counterfactual thinking’ influences intention and behaviour (Epstude & Rose, 2008; Smallman & Roese, 2009). Upward counterfactual thinking is regretful thinking for missed opportunities of a problem. This study addresses the question of how an individual’s regretful thinking affects his or her future entrepreneurial career intention. To do so, we conducted a study among students in a business school in the UK, and we found that counterfactual thinking modifies the influence of attitude and opportunity identification in entrepreneurial career intention.
Date of Award6 Oct 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMark Hart (Supervisor)


  • entrepreneurial intention
  • behaviour
  • TPB
  • age
  • counterfactual thinking

Cite this