Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 773–794 | Cite as

Entrepreneurial Self-Identity: Predictors and Effects Within the Theory of Planned Behavior Framework

  • Martin Obschonka
  • Rainer K. Silbereisen
  • Uwe Cantner
  • Maximilian Goethner


To combine the identity and the theory of planned behavior (TPB) approaches to entrepreneurship, we investigated unique main effects as well as moderating effects of an entrepreneurial self-identity in the TPB-entrepreneurship framework. We also investigated predictors of an entrepreneurial self-identity.


Considering a process model of entrepreneurship, we analyzed two cross-sectional T1 samples of German scientists with regard to two central tasks along the entrepreneurial process (business idea development and business founding) via path model analyses as well as data from follow-up surveys collected at T2 and T3 via regression analyses.


Self-identity predicted founding intentions, above and beyond the effect of the TPB variables. Moreover, self-identity showed a characteristic moderating effect with TPB-intention predictors. Their effect was weaker or even zero at low levels of self-identity. In addition, self-identity forecasted behavior, but had no unique main or moderating effect on behavior in the TPB framework. Self-identity was predictable by past behavior, personality structure, recalled adolescent competencies, and early parental role models. Moreover, an engagement in entrepreneurial activity led to an increase in self-identity over time.


The results suggest that self-identity operates as a motivational factor in entrepreneurial transitions that interacts with TPB variables in a characteristic way. An entrepreneurial self-identity develops from an early developmental stage on, but also during the working life.


This study is unique because it integrates the occupational self-concept/self-identity construct into the TPB–entrepreneurship approach, and also delivers new implications concerning how to foster entrepreneurial motivations more effectively by taking the developing occupational self-concept into account.


Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurial motivation Identity Intentions Personality Academic entrepreneurship 


  1. Achtziger, A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2008). Motivation and volition during the course of action. In J. Heckhausen & H. Heckhausen (Eds.), Motivation and action (pp. 272–295). London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behaviour. Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ajzen, I. (2002). Construction of a standard questionnaire for the theory of planned behavior. (10.06.2008).
  4. Ajzen, I., & Madden, T. J. (1986). Prediction of goal-directed behavior: Attitudes, intentions and perceived behavioral control. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22(5), 453–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arbuckle, J. L. (2010). IBM SPSS ® Amos™ 19 User’s Guide. Chicago: SPSS.Google Scholar
  6. Audretsch, D. B., & Stephan, P. E. (1999). Knowledge spillovers in biotechnology: Sources and incentives. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 9(1), 97–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Belli, R. F., Shay, W. L., & Stafford, F. P. (2001). Event history calendars and question list surveys. Public Opinion Quarterly, 65, 45–74.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Betz, N. E. (1994). Self-concept theory in career development and counseling. Career Development Quarterly, 43(1), 32–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bundesamt, Statistisches. (2008). Bildung und Kultur: Personal an Hochschulen [Education and culture: Personell at universities]. Wiesbaden, Germany: Statistisches Bundesamt.Google Scholar
  10. Burke, P. J., & Reitzes, D. C. (1981). The link between identity and role performance. Social Psychology Quarterly, 44, 83–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell, J. D. (1990). Self-esteem and the clarity of the self-concept. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(3), 538–549.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cardon, M. S., Gregoire, D. A., Stevens, C. E., & Patel, P. C. (2013). Measuring entrepreneurial passion: Conceptual foundations and scale validation. Journal of Business Venturing, 28(3), 373–396.Google Scholar
  13. Conner, M., & Armitage, C. J. (1998). Extending the theory of planned behavior: A review and avenues for future research. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28(15), 1429–1464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conway, M. A., Wang, Q., Hanyu, K., & Haque, S. (2005). A cross-cultural variation of autobiographical memory: On the universality and cultural variation of the reminiscence bump. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36, 739–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cronbach, L. J., & Gleser, G. C. (1953). Assessing the similarity between profiles. Psychological Bulletin, 50, 456–473.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Davidsson, P., & Gordon, S. R. (2012). Panel studies of new venture creation: A methods-focused review and suggestions for future research. Small Business Economics, 39, 853–876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eccles, J. (1994). Understanding women’s educational and occupational choices: Applying the Eccles et al. model of achievement-related choices. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 585–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fauchart, E., & Gruber, M. (2011). Darwinians, communitarians, and missionaries: The role of founder identity in entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Journal, 54(5), 935–957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson.Google Scholar
  20. Fini, R., Grimaldi, R., Marzocchi, G. L., & Sombrero, M. (2012). The determinants of corporate entrepreneurial intention within small and newly established firms. Entrepreneurship: Theory & Practice, 36(2), 387–414.Google Scholar
  21. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (2010). Predicting and changing behavior: The reasoned action approach. New York: Taylor.Google Scholar
  22. Frese, M. (1982). Occupational socialization and psychological development: An underemphasized research perspective in industrial psychology. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 55, 209–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goethner, M., Obschonka, M., Silbereisen, R. K., & Cantner, U. (2012). Scientists’ transition to academic entrepreneurship: Economic and psychological determinants. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(3), 628–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heckhausen, H., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (1987). Thought contents and cognitive functioning in motivational and volitional states of mind. Motivation and Emotion, 11, 101–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hoang, H., & Gimeno, J. (2010). Becoming a founder: How founder role identity affects entrepreneurial transitions and persistence in founding. Journal of Business Venturing, 25(1), 41–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices. A theory of vocational personalities and work environments. Odessa, FL: PAR.Google Scholar
  27. Jain, S., George, G., & Maltarich, M. (2009). Academics or entrepreneurs? Investigation role identity modification of university scientists involved in commercialization activities. Research Policy, 38(6), 922–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kautonen, T., van Gelderen, M., & Fink, M. (2013). Robustness of the theory of planned behavior in predicting entrepreneurial intentions and actions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. doi: 10.1111/etap.12056.Google Scholar
  29. Kim-Gang, D., & Weiss, D. J. (2008). Adaptive measurement of individual change. Journal of Psychology, 216, 49–58.Google Scholar
  30. Kline, R. B. (2005). Structural equation modeling. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  31. Kohn, M. L., & Schooler, C. (1982). Job conditions and personality: A longitudinal assessment of their reciprocal effects. American Journal of Sociology, 87, 1257–1286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kohn, M. L., Slomczynski, K. M., & Schoenbach, C. (1986). Social stratification and the transmission of values in the family: A cross-national assessment. Sociological Forum, 1, 73–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kolvereid, L., & Isaksen, E. (2006). New business start-up and subsequent entry into self-employment. Journal of Business Venturing, 21(6), 866–885.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Krueger, N. F. (2007). What lies beneath? The experiential essence of entrepreneurial thinking. Entrepreneurship: Theory & Practice, 31(1), 123–138.Google Scholar
  35. Krueger, N. F., & Carsrud, A. L. (1993). Entrepreneurial intentions: Applying the theory of planned behaviour. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 5(4), 315–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Krueger, N. F., Reilly, M. D., & Carsrud, A. L. (2000). Competing models of entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Business Venturing, 15(5–6), 411–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Landry, R., Amara, N., & Rherrad, I. (2006). Why are some university researchers more likely to create spin-offs than others? Evidence from Canadian universities. Research Policy, 35(10), 1599–1615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lecky, P. (1945). Self-consistency: A theory of personality. New York: Island Press.Google Scholar
  39. Liñán, F., Urbano, D., & Guerrero, M. (2011). Regional variations in entrepreneurial cognitions: Start-up intentions of university students in Spain. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development: An International Journal, 23(3–4), 187–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gottfredson, L. S. (1981). Circumscription and compromise: A developmental theory of occupational aspirations. Journal of Counseling Psychology (Monograph), 28(6), 545–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Luster, R., Rhoades, K., & Haas, B. (1989). The relation between parental values and parenting behavior: A test of the Kohn hypothesis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 139–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McCall, G. J., & Simmons, J. L. (1966). Identities and interactions: An examination of human associations in everyday life. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  43. Murnieks, C., Mosakowski, E., & Cardon, M. (2014). Pathways of passion: Identity centrality, passion, and behavior among entrepreneurs. Journal of Management, 40, 1583–1606.Google Scholar
  44. Murray, F., & Graham, L. (2007). Buying science and selling science: Gender differences in the market for commercial science. Industrial and Corporate Change, 16(4), 657–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Navis, C., & Glynn, M. A. (2011). Legitimate distinctiveness and the entrepreneurial identity: Influence on investor judgments of new venture plausibility. Academy of Management Review, 36(3), 479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Obschonka, M., Goethner, M., Silbereisen, R. K., & Cantner, U. (2012). Social identity and the transition to entrepreneurship: The role of group identification with workplace peers. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 137–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Obschonka, M., Schmitt-Rodermund, E., Silbereisen, R. K., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2013). The regional distribution and correlates of an entrepreneurship-prone personality profile in the U.S., Germany, and the UK: A socioecological perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(1), 104–122.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Obschonka, M., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2012). Entrepreneurship from a developmental science perspective. Editorial for the Special Issue “Entrepreneurial development: Person and context”. International Journal of Developmental Science, 6(3-4), 107–115.Google Scholar
  49. Obschonka, M., Silbereisen, R. K., & Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (2010). Entrepreneurial intention as developmental outcome. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(1), 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Obschonka, M., Silbereisen, R. K., & Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (2011a). Entrepreneurial success as developmental outcome: A path model from a life-span perspective of human development. European Psychologist, 16(3), 174–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Obschonka, M., Silbereisen, R. K., Schmitt-Rodermund, E., & Stuetzer, M. (2011b). Nascent entrepreneurship and the developing individual: Early entrepreneurial competence in adolescence and venture creation success during the career. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79, 121–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ostendorf, E. (1990). Sprache und Persönlichkeitsstruktur: Zur Validität des Fünf-Faktoren-Modells der Persönlichkeit [Language and personality structure: Toward the validation of the five-factor model of personality]. Regensburg, Germany: S. Roeder Verlag.Google Scholar
  53. Oyserman, D. (2009). Identity-based motivation: Implications for action-readiness, procedural-readiness, and consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 19, 250–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ozer, D. J., & Benet-Martinez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 401–421.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Peterman, N. E., & Kennedy, J. (2003). Enterprise education: Influencing students’ perceptions of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 28, 129–144.Google Scholar
  56. Rise, J., Sheeran, P., & Hukkelberg, S. (2010). The role of self-identity in the theory of planned behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(5), 1085–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rutter, M., Maughan, B., Pickles, A., & Simonoff, E. (1998). Retrospective recall recalled. In R. B. Cairns, L. R. Bergman, & J. Kagan (Eds.), Methods and models for studying the individual (pp. 219–243). Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  58. Savickas, M. L. (1985). Identity in vocational development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 27, 329–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Savickas, M. L. (2002). Career construction: A developmental theory of vocational behavior. In D. Brown (Ed.), Career choice and development (Vol. 4, pp. 149–205). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  60. Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (2004). Pathways to successful entrepreneurship: Parenting, personality, entrepreneurial competence, and interests. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65, 498–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (2007). The long way to entrepreneurship: Personality, parenting, early interests, and competencies as precursors for entrepreneurial activity among the ‘Termites’. In R. K. Silbereisen & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Approaches to positive youth development (pp. 205–224). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schumpeter, J. A. (1934). The theory of economic development. Cambridge, MA: Havard University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Schwarzer, R. (2001). Social-cognitive factors in changing health-related behaviors. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(2), 47–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Shane, S. A. (2004). Academic entrepreneurship: University spinoffs and wealth creation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25, 217–226.Google Scholar
  66. Shepherd, D., & Haynie, J. M. (2009). Birds of a feather don’t always flock together: Identity management in entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 24, 316–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Siemsen, E., Roth, A., & Oliveira, P. (2009). Common method bias in regression models with linear, quadratic, and interaction effects. Organizational Research Methods, 13(3), 456–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Skorikov, V. B., & Vondracek, F. W. (2007). Vocational identity. In V. B. Skorikov & W. Patton (Eds.), Career development in childhood and adolescence (pp. 143–168). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  69. Souitaris, V., Zerbinati, S., & Al-Laham, A. (2007). Do entrepreneurship programmes raise entrepreneurial intention of science and engineering students? The effect of learning, inspiration and resources. Journal of Business Venturing, 22(4), 566–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sparks, P., & Shepherd, R. (1992). Self-identity and the theory of planned behavior: Assessing the role of identification with “green consumerism”. Social Psychology Quarterly, 55(3), 388–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Stets, J. E., & Burke, P. J. (2000). Identity theory and social identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly, 63(3), 224–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Stryker, S. (1987). Identity theory: Development and extensions. In K. Yardley & T. Honess (Eds.), Self and identity (pp. 89–104). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  73. Stuetzer, M., Obschonka, M., & Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (2013). Balanced skills among nascent entrepreneurs. Small Business Economics, 41(1), 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Super, D. E. (1963). Self-concepts in vocational development. In D. E. Super, R. Starishevsky, N. Matlin, & J. P. Joordan (Eds.), Career development: Self-concept theory (pp. 17–32). New York: College Entrance Examination Board.Google Scholar
  75. Swann, W. B, Jr., Rentfrow, P. J., & Guinn, J. (2002). Self-verification: The search for coherence. In M. Leary & J. Tagney (Eds.), Handbook of self and identity (pp. 381–383). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  76. Terry, D. J., Hogg, M. A., & White, K. M. (1999). The theory of planned behavior: Self-identity, social identity and group norms. British Journal of Social Psychology, 38(3), 225–244.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Ucbasaran, D., Alsos, G. A., Westhead, P., & Wright, M. (2008). Habitual entrepreneurs. Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 4(4), 309–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Unger, J. M., Rauch, A., Frese, M., & Rosenbusch, N. (2011). Human capital and entrepreneurial success: a meta-analytical review. Journal of Business Venturing, 26, 341–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Verheul, I., Uhlaner, L. M., & Thurik, A. R. (2005). Business accomplishments, gender and entrepreneurial self-image. Journal of Business Venturing, 20(4), 483–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. von Graevenitz, G., Harhoff, D., & Weber, R. (2010). The effects of entrepreneurship education. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 76(1), 90–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. World Economic Forum. (2009). Educating the next wave of entrepreneurs: Unlocking entrepreneurial capabilities to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Obschonka
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rainer K. Silbereisen
    • 2
  • Uwe Cantner
    • 3
    • 4
  • Maximilian Goethner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany
  2. 2.Center for Applied Developmental ScienceFriedrich Schiller UniversityJenaGermany
  3. 3.Department of Economics and Business Administration and Graduate College “The Economics of Innovative Change” (DFG-GK-1411)Friedrich Schiller UniversityJenaGermany
  4. 4.I2M Group, Department of Marketing and ManagementUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark

Personalised recommendations