Abstract

Research into entrepreneurial intentions focuses on theory-driven models of behavioral intentions such as Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). While TPB has proved robust in studying what drives entrepreneurial action this study challenge the model, assuming that intentions represent a dynamic process where intent and its ‘antecedents’ influence each other reciprocally. We integrate the theory of hierarchy of goals organizing behavior in three levels (Lawson, 1997) and the Theory of Trying (Bagozzi and Warshaw, 1990) thereby accommodating for a broader theory of goal-pursuit. Thus, intent is a dynamic process emphasizing personal goal hierarchies.

The dominant models of intention assume: (i) action is preceded by a deliberative process leading to conscious decisions to act and (ii) absence of impediments to acting. If impediments exist, the behavior is more properly considered a goal. The key question is therefore: Are an entrepreneur’s intentions actually goals? Goals tend to assume a sequence of behaviors, such as barriers to overcome or resources to acquire which represent the hierarchy of intermediate goals. Our models of intentions toward a behavior assume that the behavior is proximal and without unreasonable obstacles. Where actual action is problematic, the completion of an action can be seen as an intermediate goal en route to the primary goal (of launching a venture).

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