Business students’ attitudes toward innovation and intentions to start their own businesses



This research integrates perspectives from models of entrepreneurial intentions and attitude theory to examine the nature of the relationship between business students’ attitudes toward innovation and their intentions to start their own businesses. Multiple regression analysis revealed a positive association between attitude toward the distal and broad object of innovation and intentions of US business students to engage in the specific behavior of starting a business. Multiple mediation analysis revealed this association is partially mediated by attitudes toward the proximal and specific object of starting a business, operationalized as perceived desirability and feasibility of starting a business. As attitudes are open to change, opportunities exist for educators and practitioners to affect entrepreneurial intentions by affecting attitudes toward relevant, broad objects, such as innovation.


Attitude theory Entrepreneurial intentions Innovation Theory of planned behavior 


  1. Abelson, R. P. (1982). Three models of attitude-behavior consistency. In M. P. Zanna, E. T. Higgins, & C. P. Herman (Eds.), Consistency in social behavior: The Ontario symposium (Vol. 2, pp. 131–146). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  2. Ajzen, I. (1982). On behaving in accordance with one’s attitudes. In M. P. Zanna, E. T. Higgins, & C. P. Herman (Eds.), Consistency in social behavior: The Ontario symposium (Vol. 2, pp. 3–15). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Ajzen, I. (1987). Attitudes, traits, and actions: dispositional prediction of behavior in social psychology. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 20, 1–63.Google Scholar
  4. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 1–63.Google Scholar
  5. Ajzen, I. (2002). Perceived behavioral control, self-efficacy, locus of control, and the theory of planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 1–20.Google Scholar
  6. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Albarracin, D., Johnson, B. T., Fishbein, M., & Muellerleile, P. A. (2001). Theories of reasoned action and planned behavior a.s models of condom use: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 142–161.Google Scholar
  8. Aldrich, H. E., & Martinez, M. A. (2001). Many are called, but few are chosen: an evolutionary perspective for the study of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 19(4), 41–56.Google Scholar
  9. Allport, G. W. (1935). Attitudes. In C. Murchison (Ed.), Handbook of social psychology (pp. 798–884). Worcester: Clark University.Google Scholar
  10. Amason, A. C., Shrader, R. C., & Tompson, G. H. (2006). Newness and novelty: relating top management team composition to new venture performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 21(1), 125–148.Google Scholar
  11. Armitage, C. J., & Conner, M. (2001). Efficacy of the theory of planned behaviour: a meta-analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 47t–499t.Google Scholar
  12. Atkinson, J. W. (1964). An introduction to motivation. Princeton: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
  13. Audretsch, D. B. (2007). The entrepreneurial society. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Autio, E., Keeley, R. H., Klofsten, M., Parker, G. G. C., & Hay, M. (2001). Entrepreneurial intent among students in Scandinavia and in the USA. Enterprise and Innovation Management Studies, 2, 145–160.Google Scholar
  15. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  16. Bird, B. (1988). Implementing entrepreneurial ideas: the case of intentions. Academy of Management Review, 13(3), 442–454.Google Scholar
  17. Bollen, K. A. (1987). Total, direct, and indirect effects in structural equation models. Sociological Methodology, 17, 37–69.Google Scholar
  18. Bollen, K. A. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. Breckler, S. J. (1984). Empirical validation of affect, behavior, and cognition as distinct components of attitude. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1191–1205.Google Scholar
  20. Brockhaus, R. (1987). Entrepreneurial folklore. Journal of Small Business Management, 25(3), 1–6.Google Scholar
  21. Brockhaus, R. H., & Horwitz, P. S. (1982). The psychology of the entrepreneur. In D. L. Sexton & R. W. Smilor (Eds.), The art and science of entrepreneurship (pp. 25–48). Cambridge: Ballinger.Google Scholar
  22. Brown, R. L. (1997). Assessing specific mediational effects in complex theoretical models. Structural Equation Modeling, 4, 142–156.Google Scholar
  23. Bruton, G. D., & Rubanik, Y. (2002). Resources of the firm, Russian high-technology start-ups, and firm growth. Journal of Business Venturing, 17(6), 553–576.Google Scholar
  24. Carland, J. W., Hoy, F., Boulton, W. R., & Carland, J. C. (1984). Differentiating entrepreneurs from small business owners: a conceptualization. Academy of Management Review, 9(2), 354–359.Google Scholar
  25. Carter, N. M., Gartner, W. B., Shaver, K. G., & Gatewood, E. J. (2003). The career reasons of nascent entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Venturing, 18, 13–39.Google Scholar
  26. Chaiken, S., & Stangor, C. (1987). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual Review of Psychology, 38, 575–630.Google Scholar
  27. Cordano, M., & Frieze, I. H. (2000). Pollution reduction preferences of U.S. environmental managers: applying Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 43(4), 527–541.Google Scholar
  28. Crandall, R. (1973). Measurement of self-esteem and related constructs. In J. P. Robinson & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Measurement of social psychological attitudes. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  29. Crant, M. J. (1996). The proactive personality scale as a predictor of entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Small Business Management, 34(3), 42–49.Google Scholar
  30. Damanpour, F., & Wischnevsky, J. D. (2006). Research on innovation in organizations: distinguishing innovation-generating from innovation-adopting organizations. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 23(4), 269–291.Google Scholar
  31. Davidsson, P. (1991). Continued entrepreneurship: ability, need, and opportunity as determinants of small firm growth. Journal of Business Venturing, 6, 405–429.Google Scholar
  32. Delmar, F., & Davidsson, P. (2000). Where do they come from? Prevalence and characteristics of nascent entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 12, 1–23.Google Scholar
  33. Diaz-Garcia, M. C., & Jimenez-Moreno, J. (2010). Entrepreneurial intention: the role of gender. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 6, 261–283.Google Scholar
  34. Fayolle, A., & DeGeorge, J.-M. (2006). Attitudes, intentions, and behaviour: New approaches to evaluating entrepreneurship education. In A. Fayolle & H. Klandt (Eds.), International entrepreneurship education. Issues and newness (pp. 74–89). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  35. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (2010). Predicting and changing behavior: The reasoned action approach. New York: Taylor.Google Scholar
  36. Fox, J. (1985). Effects analysis in structural equation models II: calculation of specific indirect effects. Sociological Methods & Research, 14, 81–95.Google Scholar
  37. Gartner, W. B. (1989). Some suggestions for research on entrepreneurial traits and characteristics. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 14(1), 27–37.Google Scholar
  38. Gartner, W. B., Shaver, K. G., Gatewood, E., & Katz, J. A. (1994). Finding the entrepreneur in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 18, 5–9.Google Scholar
  39. Gasse, Y. (1985). A strategy for the promotion and identification of potential entrepreneurs at the secondary school level. In J. A. Homaday, B. Shils, J. A. Timmons, & K. H. Vesper (Eds.), Frontiers of entrepreneurship research (pp. 538–559). Wellesley: Babson College.Google Scholar
  40. Gupta, V. K., Turban, D. B., Wasti, S. A., & Sikdar, A. (2009). The role of gender stereotypes in perceptions of entrepreneurs and intentions to become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(2), 397–417.Google Scholar
  41. Harman, H. H. (1967). Modern factor analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  43. Heunks, F. J. (1998). Innovation, creativity and success. Small Business Economics, 10(3), 263–272.Google Scholar
  44. Hitt, M. A., Ireland, D., Camp, M., & Sexton, D. (2001). Strategic entrepreneurship: entrepreneurial strategies for wealth creation. Strategic Management Journal, 22, 479–491.Google Scholar
  45. Hmieleski, K. M., & Corbett, A. C. (2006). Proclivity for improvisation as a predictor of entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Small Business Management, 44(1), 45–63.Google Scholar
  46. Huang, C. J., & Liu, C. J. (2005). Exploration for the relationship between innovation, IT and performance. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 6(2), 237–252.Google Scholar
  47. Huefner, J. C., & Hunt, H. K. (1994). Broadening the concept of entrepreneurship: comparing business and consumer entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 18(3), 61–76.Google Scholar
  48. Katz, J., & Gartner, W. (1988). Properties of emerging organizations. Academy of Management Review, 13, 429–441.Google Scholar
  49. Kim, M., & Hunter, J. (1993). Relationships among attitudes, intentions and behavior. Communication Research, 20, 331–364.Google Scholar
  50. Kirton, M. (1976). Adaptors and innovators: a description and measure. Journal of Applied Psychology, 61, 622–629.Google Scholar
  51. Kirton, M. (1978). Have adaptors and innovators equal levels of creativity. Psychological Reports, 42, 695–698.Google Scholar
  52. Kolvereid, L. (1996). Organisational employment versus self employment: reasons for career choice intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 20(3), 23–31.Google Scholar
  53. Krasner, O. J. (1982). The role of entrepreneurs in innovation. In C. A. Kent, D. L. Sexton, & K. H. Vesper (Eds.), Encyclopedia of entrepreneurship (pp. 277–281). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  54. Krueger, N. (1993). Impact of prior entrepreneurial exposure on perceptions of new venture feasibility and desirability. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 18(1), 5–21.Google Scholar
  55. Krueger, N., & Brazeal, D. V. (1994). Entrepreneurial potential and potential entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 18(3), 91–104.Google Scholar
  56. Krueger, N., Reilly, M. D., & Carsrud, A. L. (2000). Competing models of entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Business Venturing, 15(5–6), 411–432.Google Scholar
  57. Lee, S. H., & Wong, P. K. (2004). An exploratory study of technopreneurial intentions: a career anchor perspective. Journal of Business Venturing, 19, 7–28.Google Scholar
  58. Lee, L., Wong, P. K., Foo, M. D., & Leung, A. (2011). Entrepreneurial intentions: the influence of organizational and individual factors. Journal of Business Venturing, 26, 124–136.Google Scholar
  59. Levenson, H. (1973). Multidimensional locus of control in psychiatric patients. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 41, 397–404.Google Scholar
  60. Liñán, F. (2008). Skill and value perceptions: how do they affect entrepreneurial intentions? International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 4(3), 257–272.Google Scholar
  61. Liñán, F., & Chen, Y. W. (2009). Development and cross-cultural application of a specific instrument to measure entrepreneurial intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(3), 593–617.Google Scholar
  62. Liñán, F., Urbano, D., & Guerrero, M. (2011). Regional variations in entrepreneurial cognitions: start-up intentions of university students in Spain. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 23(3&4), 187–215.Google Scholar
  63. Liñán, F., Rodriguez-Cohard, J. C., & Rueda-Cantuche, J. M. (2011). Factors affecting entrepreneurial intentions levels: a role for education. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 7, 195–218.Google Scholar
  64. Low, M. B., & MacMillan, I. C. (1988). Entrepreneurship: past research and future challenges. Journal of Management, 14, 139–161.Google Scholar
  65. Luthje, C., & Franke, N. (2003). The ‘Making’ of an entrepreneur: testing a model of entrepreneurial intent among engineering students at MIT. R&D Management, 33(2), 135–147.Google Scholar
  66. MacKinnon, D. P. (2000). Contrasts in multiple mediator models. In J. Rose, L. Chassin, C. C. Presson, & S. J. Sherman (Eds.), Multivariate applications in substance use research: New methods for new questions (pp. 141–160). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  67. MacKinnon, D. P. (2008). Introduction to statistical mediation analysis. New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  68. MacMillan, I., & Katz, J. (1992). Idiosyncratic milieus of entrepreneurship research: the need for comprehensive theories. Journal of Business Venturing, 7, 1–8.Google Scholar
  69. McClelland, D. (1961). The achieving society. New York: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
  70. McClelland, D. C., Atkinson, J. W., Clark, R. A., & Lowell, L. (1953). The achievement motive. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  71. McCline, R. L., Bhat, S., & Baj, P. (2000). Opportunity recognition: an exploratory investigation of a component of the entrepreneurial process in the context of the health care industry. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 25(2), 81–95.Google Scholar
  72. Neter, J., Kutner, M. H., Wasserman, W., & Nachtsheim, C. J. (1996). Applied linear statistical models (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  73. Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Social research methods. Boston: AUyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  74. 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.Google Scholar
  75. Obschanka, M., Silbereisen, R. K., & Schmitt-Rodermund, E. (2010). Entrepreneurial intention as developmental outcome. Journal of Vocational Behavior 77, 63–72.Google Scholar
  76. Ostrom, T. M. (1969). The relationship between the affective, behavioral, and cognitive components of attitude. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 5, 12–30.Google Scholar
  77. Perez-Luno, A., Wiklund, J., & Valle-Cabrera, R. (2011). The dual nature of innovative activity: How entrepreneurial orientation influences innovation generation and adoption. Journal of Business Venturing, 26, 555–571.Google Scholar
  78. Peterman, N. E., & Kennedy, K. (2003). Enterprise education: influencing students’ perceptions of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 28(2), 129–144.Google Scholar
  79. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 879–903.Google Scholar
  80. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavioral Research Methods, 40, 879–891.Google Scholar
  81. Reynolds, P. D., Bygrave, W. D., Aution, E., Cox, L. W., & Hay, M. (2002). Global entrepreneurship monitor. Kansas City: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.Google Scholar
  82. Robinson, P. B., & Sexton, E. A. (1994). The effect of education and experience on self-employment success. Journal of Business Venturing, 9, 141–157.Google Scholar
  83. Robinson, P., Stimpson, D. V., Huefner, J. C., & Hunt, H. K. (1991). An attitude approach to the prediction of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 15(4), 13–31.Google Scholar
  84. Rosenberg, M. J., & Hovland, C. I. (1960). Cognitive, affective, and behavioral components of attitudes. In M. J. Rosenberg, C. I. Hovland, W. J. McGuire, R. P. Abelson, & J. W. Brehm (Eds.), Attitude organization and change: An analysis of consistency among attitude components. New Haven: Yale University.Google Scholar
  85. Roure, J. B., & Maidique, M. A. (1986). Linking prefunding factors and high technology venture success: an exploratory study. Journal of Business Venturing, 1(3), 295–306.Google Scholar
  86. Scherer, R., Adams, J., Carley, S., & Wiebe, F. (1989). Role model performance effects on development of entrepreneurial career preference. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 13, 53–81.Google Scholar
  87. Schollhammer, H. (1982). Internal corporate entrepreneurship. In C. A. Kent, D. L. Sexton, & K. H. Vesper (Eds.), Encyclopedia of entrepreneurship (pp. 209–229). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  88. Schumpeter, J. (1934). The theory of economic development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  89. Schumpeter, J. (1939). Business cycles. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  90. Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 217–226.Google Scholar
  91. Shapero, A., & Sokol, L. (1982). Social dimensions of entrepreneurship. In C. A. Kent, D. L. Sexton, & K. H. Vesper (Eds.), Encyclopedia of entrepreneurship (pp. 72–90). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  92. Shaver, K. G. (1987). Principles of social psychology (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Winthrop.Google Scholar
  93. Sheeran, P., & Orbell, S. (1998). Do intentions predict condom use? Meta-analysis and examination of six moderator variables. British Journal of Social Psychology, 37, 231–250.Google Scholar
  94. Sheppard, B. H., Hartwick, J., & Warshaw, P. R. (1988). The theory of reasoned action: a meta analysis of past research with recommendation and future research. Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 325–343.Google Scholar
  95. Shook, C. L., & Bratianu, C. (2010). Entrepreneurial intent in a transitional economy: an application of the theory of planned behavior to Romanian students. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 6, 231–247.Google Scholar
  96. Shook, C. L., Priem, R. L., & McGee, J. E. (2003). Venture creation and the enterprising individual: a review and synthesis. Journal of Management, 29(3), 379–399.Google Scholar
  97. Siegel, R., Siegel, E., & MacMillan, I. C. (1993). Characteristics distinguishing high-growth ventures. Journal of Business Venturing, 8(2), 169–180.Google Scholar
  98. Sommer, L., & Haug, M. (2011). Intentions as a cognitive antecedent to international entrepreneurship-understanding the moderating roles of knowledge and experience. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 7, 111–142.Google Scholar
  99. 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.Google Scholar
  100. Stewart, W. H., Jr., Watson, W. E., Carland, J. C., & Carland, J. W. (1998). A proclivity for entrepreneurship: a comparison of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and corporate managers. Journal of Business Venturing, 14, 189–214.Google Scholar
  101. Thurik, A. R. (1996). Introduction: innovation and small business. Small Business Economics, 8(2), 175–176.Google Scholar
  102. Tkachev, A., & Kolvereid, L. (1999). Self-employment intentions among russian students. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 11(3), 269–280.Google Scholar
  103. Udell, G. (1982). Elaboration on entrepreneurs and innovation. In C. A. Kent, D. L. Sexton, & K. H. Vesper (Eds.), Encyclopedia of entrepreneurship (pp. 282–287). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  104. Wilson, F., Kickul, J., & Marlino, D. (2007). Gender, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial career intentions: implications for entrepreneurship education. Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 31(3), 387–406.Google Scholar
  105. Zhao, H. S., Seibert, S. E., & Hills, G. E. (2005). The mediating role of self-efficacy in the development of entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1265–1272.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of BusinessFlorida Atlantic UniversityDavieUSA

Personalised recommendations