Revisiting entrepreneurial intentions: a social cognitive career theory approach

  • Eric W. Liguori
  • Joshua S. Bendickson
  • William C. McDowell


This manuscript expands upon the extant knowledge of self-efficacy by applying social cognitive career theory (SCCT) to entrepreneurship, positing that it is a robust theoretical framework to study individual entrepreneurial activity. Additionally, self-efficacy is an important entrepreneurial construct, central to our understanding of entrepreneurial phenomena, so we explore how self-efficacy shapes entrepreneurial intentions, and provide arguments regarding the roles of both domain-specific and generalized self-efficacy. More specifically, we posit several SCCT-informed propositions: person inputs (generalized self-efficacy, gender, minority status) and environmental / background inputs (prior work experience, prior entrepreneurship experience, and prior family business exposure) significantly impacted entrepreneurial self-efficacy and entrepreneurial outcome expectations; entrepreneurial self-efficacy mediates the person input – entrepreneurial outcome expectations and person input – entrepreneurial intentions relationships, and entrepreneurial outcome expectations mediates the person inputs – entrepreneurial intentions relationship. In sum, this manuscript affirms the importance of SCCT in predicting EI, thus introducing a new perspective to the entrepreneurship literature that may provide unique insights in other areas as well.


Social cognitive career theory Self-efficacy Entrepreneurial intentions 


  1. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 1–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arenius, P., & Minniti, M. (2005). Perceptual variables and nascent entrepreneurship. Small Business Economics, 24(3), 233–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Athayde, R. (2009). Measuring enterprise potential in young people. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(2), 481–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Autio, E., Keeley, R. H., Klofsten, M., Parker, G. C., & Hay, M. (2001). Entrepreneurial intent among students in Scandinavia and in the USA. Enterprise and Innovation Management Studies, 2(2), 145–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37, 122–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  8. Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social-cognitive theory. American Psychologist, 44, 1175–1184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of self-regulation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 248–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bandura, A. (1992). Exercise of personal agency through the self-efficacy mechanism. In R. Schwartzer (Ed.), Self-efficacy: Thought control of action (pp. 3–38). Washington: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
  11. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  12. Bandura, A. (1999). A social cognitive theory of personality. In L. Pervin & O. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality (2nd ed., pp. 154–196). New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Baum, J. R., Locke, E. A., & Smith, K. G. (2001). A multi-dimensional model of venture growth. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 292–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Benight, C. C., & Bandura, A. (2004). Social cognitive theory of posttraumatic recovery: The role of perceived self-efficacy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42(10), 1129–1148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Boyd, N. G., & Vozikis, G. S. (1994). The influence of self-efficacy on the development of entrepreneurial intentions and actions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 18(4), 63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brännback, M., Carsrud, A. L., Kickul, J., & Krueger, N. (2007). "watch out, Issac!!" - re-constructing entrepreneurial intentions. Regional Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, 106–120.Google Scholar
  17. Brown, C., Garavalia, L. S., Fritts, M. L., & Olson, E. A. (2006). Computer science majors: Sex role orientation, academic achievement, and social cognitive factors. Career Development Quarterly, 54, 331–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carr, J. C., & Sequeira, J. M. (2007). Prior family business exposure as intergenerational influence and entrepreneurial intent: A theory of planned behavior approach. Journal of Business Research, 60(10), 1090–1098.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carree, M. A., & Thurik, A. R. (2003). The impact of entrepreneurship on economic growth. In D. Audretsch & Z. Acs (Eds.), Handbook of entrepreneurship research (pp. 437–471). Boston, MA: Kluwer-Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Carter, N. M., & Brush, C. G. (2004). Gender. In W. B. Gartner, K. G. Shaver, N. M. Carter, & P. D. Reynolds (Eds.), Handbook of entrepreneurial dynamics (pp. 12–25). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Carter, N. M., Gartner, W. B., & Reynolds, P. D. (1996). Exploring start-up event sequences. Journal of Business Venturing, 11, 151–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chandler, G. N., & Hanks, S. H. (1994). Market attractiveness, resource-based capabilities; venture strategies and venture performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 9(4), 331–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chen, C. C., Greene, P. G., & Crick, A. (1998). Does entrepreneurial self-efficacy distinguish entrepreneurs from managers? Journal of Business Venturing, 13, 295–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chen, G., Gully, S. M., & Eden, D. (2001). Validation of a new general self-efficacy scale. Organization Research Methods, 4, 62–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Davidsson, P. (2008). The entrepreneurship research challenge. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. DeTienne, D. R., & Chandler, G. N. (2007). The role of gender in opportunity identification. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 365–386.Google Scholar
  27. Engle, R. L., Dimitriadi, N., Gavidia, J. V., Schlaegel, C., Delanoe, S., Alvarado, I., et al. (2010). Entrepreneurial intent: A twelve-country evaluation of Ajzen's model of planned behavior. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 16(1), 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Farmer, S. M., Yao, X., & Kung-Mcintyre, K. (2011). The behavioral impact of entrepreneur identity aspiration and prior entrepreneurial experience. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 35(2), 245–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7(2), 114–140.Google Scholar
  30. Forbes, D. (2005). The effects of strategic decision making on entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 29(5), 599–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fouad, N. A., Smith, P. L., & Zao, K. E. (2002). Across academic domains: Extensions of the social-cognitive career model. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49, 164–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Frese, M. (2009). Toward a psychology of entrepreneurship - an action theory perspective. Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 5(6), 435–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gore, P. A., & Leuwerke, W. C. (2000). Predicting occupational considerations: A comparison of self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations and personenvironment congruence. Journal of Career Assessment, 8, 237–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Graves, K. D. (2003). Social cognitive theory and cancer patients' quality of life: A meta-analysis of psychosocial intervention components. Health Psychology, 22(2), 210–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hackett, G., & Lent, R. W. (1992). Theoretical advances and current inquiry in career psychology. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of Counseling psychology (2nd ed., pp. 419–451). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  36. Hindle, K., Klyver, K., & Jennings, D. F. (2009). An "informed" intent model: Incorporating human capital, social capital, and gender variables into the theoretical model of entrepreneurial intentions. In A. L. Carsrud & M. Brännback (Eds.), Understanding the entrepreneurial mind (pp. 35–50). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hmieleski, K. M., & Baron, R. A. (2009). Entrepreneurs' optimism and new venture performance: A social cognitive perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 52(3), 473–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Judge, T. A., Erez, A., & Bono, J. A. (1998). The power of being positive: The relationship between positive self-concept and job performance. Human Performance, 11, 167–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice: Mapping bounded rationality. American Psychologist, 58(9), 697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kanfer, R., & Ackerman, P. L. (1996). A self-regulatory skills perspective to reducing cognitive interference. In I. G. Sarason, B. R. Sarason, & G. R. Pierce (Eds.), Cognitive inference: Theories, methods, and findings (pp. 153–171). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. Kassean, H., Vanevenhoven, J., Liguori, E., & Winkel, D. E. (2015). Entrepreneurship education: A need for reflection, real-world experience and action. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 21(5), 690–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kolvereid, L. (1996). Prediction of employment status choice intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 21(1), 47–58.Google Scholar
  43. Krueger, N. (1993). The impact of prior entrepreneurial exposure on perceptions of new venture feasibility and desirability. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 18(1), 5–22.Google Scholar
  44. Krueger, N. (2000). The cognitive infrastructure of opportunity emergence. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 24(3), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lee, S. H., & Wong, P. K. (2004). An exploratory study of technopreneurial intentions: A career anchor perspective. Journal of Business Venturing, 19, 7–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lent, R. W., & Brown, S. D. (2008). Social cognitive career theory and subjective wellbeing in the context of work. Journal of Career Assessment, 16(1), 6–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lent, R. W., & Savickas, M. L. (1994). Postscript: Is convergence a viable agenda for career psychology? In M. L. Savickas & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Convergence in career development theories: Implications for science and Practice (pp. 259–271). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  48. Lent, R. W., Larkin, K. C., & Brown, S. D. (1989). Relation of self-efficacy to inventoried vocational interests. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 34(3), 279–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45(1), 75–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (2002). Social cognitive career theory. In D. Brown (Ed.), Career choice and development. New York: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  51. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., Sheu, H., Schmidt, J., Brenner, B. R., Gloster, C. S., et al. (2005). Social cognitive predictors of academic interests and goals in engineering: Utility for women and students at historically black universities. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52, 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lent, R. W., Scheu, H. B., Singley, D., Schmidt, J. A., Schmidt, L. C., & Gloster, C. S. (2008a). Longitudinal relations of self-efficacy to outcome expectations, interests, and major choice goals in engineering students. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 328–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lent, R. W., Lopez, A. M., Lopez, F. G., & Sheu, H. (2008b). Social cognitive career theory and the prediction of interests and choice goals in the computing disciplines. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 52–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Luzzo, D. A., Hasper, P., Albert, K. A., Bibby, M. A., & Martinelli, E. A. (1999). Effects of self-efficacy-enhancing interventions on the math/science self-efficacy and career interest, goals, and actions of career undecided college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 46(233–243).Google Scholar
  55. Markman, G. D., Balkin, D. B., & Baron, R. A. (2002). Inventors and new venture formation: The effects of general self-efficacy and regretful thinking. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 27(2), 149–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Markman, G., Baron, R. A., & Balkin, D. B. (2005). Are perseverance and self-efficacy costless? Assessing entreprenuers' regretful thinking. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mathieu, J. E., Martinau, J. W., & Tannenbaum, S. I. (1993). Individual and situational influences on the development of self-efficacy: Implications for training effectiveness. Personnel Psychology, 46, 125–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Matthews, C. H., & Moser, S. B. (1995). Family background and gender: Implications for interest in small firm ownership. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 7, 365–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Matthews, C. H., & Moser, S. B. (1996). A longitudinal investigation of the impact of family background and gender on interest in small firm ownership. Journal of Small Business Management, 34(2), 29–43.Google Scholar
  60. Mazzarol, T., Volery, T., Doss, N., & Thein, V. (1999). Factors influencing small business start-ups. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 5(2), 48–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. McGee, J. E., Peterson, M., Mueller, S. L., & Sequeira, J. M. (2009). Entrepreneurial self-efficacy: Refining the measure. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(4), 965–988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. McGlashan, A. J., & Finch, C. F. (2010). The extent to which behavioural and social sciences theories and models are used in sport injury prevention research. Sports Medicine, 40(10), 841–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Neck, H. M., & Greene, P. G. (2011). Entrepreneurship education: Known worlds and new frontiers. Journal of Small Business Management, 49(1), 55–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Reynolds, P. D. (1991). Sociology and entrepreneurship: Concepts and contributions. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 16, 47–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rogers, M. E., Creed, P. A., & Glendon, A. I. (2008). The role of personality in adolescent career planning and exploration: A social cognitive perspective. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 132–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rottinghaus, P. J., Gaffey, A. R., Borgrn, F. H., & Ralston, C. A. (2006). Diverse pathways of psychology majors: Vocational interests, self-efficacy, and intentions. Career Development Quarterly, 55, 85–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 217.Google Scholar
  68. Shane, S., Locke, E. A., & Collins, C. J. (2003). Entrepreneurial motivation. Human Resource Management Review, 13(2), 257–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Stajkovic, A. D., & Luthans, F. (1998). Self-efficacy and work-related performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 240–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Stevenson, H. H., & Sahlman, S. (1986). Importance of entrepreneurship in economic development. In R. Hisrisch (Ed.), Entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and venture capital. D. C. Heath: Lexington, KY.Google Scholar
  73. Stewart, W. H., 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Swanson, J. L., & Gore, P. A. (2000). Advances in vocational psychology theory and research. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of Counseling psychology (3rd ed., pp. 233–269). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  75. Townsend, D. M., Busenitz, L. W., & Arthurs, J. D. (2010). To start or not to start: Outcome and ability expectations in the decision to start a new venture. Journal of Business Venturing, 25(2), 192–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Turker, D., & Selcuk, S. S. (2009). Which factors affect entrepreneurial intention of university students? Journal of European Industrial Training, 33(2), 142–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Veciana, J. M., Aponte, M., & Urbano, D. (2005). University attitudes to entrepreneurship: A two countries comparison. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Management, 1(2), 165–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wang, C. K., & Wong, P. K. (2004). Entrepreneurial interest of university students in Signapore. Technovation, 24, 163–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. 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
  80. Wong, P. K., Ho, Y. P., & Autio, E. (2005). Entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth: Evidence from GEM data. Small Business Economics, 24(3), 335–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wood, R., & Bandura, A. (1989). Impact of conceptions of ability on self-regulatory mechanisms and complex decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 407–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Zhao, H., Seibert, C., & Hills, C. (2005). The mediating role of self-efficacy in the development of entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(2), 1265–1272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Zikic, J., & Saks, A. M. (2009). Job search and social cognitive theory: The role of career relevant activities. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74(117–127).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric W. Liguori
    • 1
  • Joshua S. Bendickson
    • 2
  • William C. McDowell
    • 3
  1. 1.Rohrer College of BusinessRowan UniversityGlassboroUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management, B.I. Moody III College of Business AdministrationUniversity of Louisiana at LafayetteLafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Turner School of Entrepreneurship and InnovationBradley UniversityPeoriaUSA

Personalised recommendations