Abstract

Action is the central feature of entrepreneurship (McMullen & Shepherd 2006). The formation of an entrepreneurial intention, i.e., the cognitive commitment to starting a business, is a necessary condition for engaging in entrepreneurial action. However, while being necessary, intention is not sufficient. Many individuals form entrepreneurial intentions but only a small minority turn their intentions into actions (Van Gelderen et al. 2015).

Focusing on entrepreneurial intentions alone might represent an important limitation in fully explaining entrepreneurship (Adam & Fayolle 2015; Kautonen et al. 2015)many authors have studied the entrepreneurial process based on the intention models developed in the sociopsychological literature. Determinants of intention were defined, but as shown by Ajzen (1987. In this paper, we contribute to fill this gap by addressing an apparently simple question: under which conditions do entrepreneurial intentions convert into entrepreneurial action, and under which conditions don’t?

We build on social cognitive career theory ([SCCT] Lent & Brown, 2013; Lent, Brown & Hackett 1994; 2000), which suggests that contextual support and barriers influence the extent to which career goals convert into action. Specifically, social influences from family members, friends, and faculty can play an important role in facilitating action towards career goals (e.g. Richie et al., 1997).

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