Received studies reveal significant differences in the level of entrepreneurial growth aspirations across countries (Autio, 2005; Autio, 2007). Not only does the level of self-employment activity vary, but also the level of growth aspiration varies significantly. At the individual level, a number of factors have been associated with high growth expectations in nascent and new entrepreneurial firms (Autio, 2007). However, these do not explain country-level variation in high-growth expectations.

In this study we examine country-level factors which moderate the effect of individual-level characteristics on entrepreneurial growth aspirations. Received theory suggests at least three country-level mechanisms that might impact the way with which individuals seek to exploit their human capital by starting growth-oriented entrepreneurial ventures. First, entrepreneurs can be seen as seeking to exploit their human capital through innovative, high-growth ventures. To do this, entrepreneurs must have reasonable confidence that their intellectual property rights will be respected. Second, entrepreneurs can be seen as weighing potential upside against risks. This upside may be taxed away, reducing the incentives for entrepreneurs to exploit their human capital through growth-oriented ventures. Third, entrepreneurs might be also seen as opportunistic individuals who adjust their goals to contextual cues. During times of economic growth, entrepreneurs endowed with high human capital would adjust their growth aspirations, in an effort to maximize their expected benefit from the entrepreneurial venture.