FROM ENTREPRENEURIAL INTENTION TO ACTION: THE ROLE OF SELF-REGULATION AND CULTURAL VALUES THE CASE OF SAUDI ARABIA
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Scholarship has recognised the importance of entrepreneurship for economic development. Increasingly, policy makers promote entrepreneurship as one of the solutions for unemployment concerns. However, although many people formulate entrepreneurial intention they fail to convert their intention into action; this problem is called the intention-action gap. The problem of intention-action gap is particularly salient in Saudi Arabia. Although people have positive perceptions about entrepreneurship and high entrepreneurial intention, the country’s entrepreneurial activity is low. This presents a barrier in achieving the country’s national strategy to create more entrepreneurs through the promotion of entrepreneurship. Here, raising an intention to become an entrepreneur does not equate to becoming an entrepreneur. Scholars often predict entrepreneurship by entrepreneurial intention. Thus, they assume that entrepreneurial intention is the best predictor of action. They use dominant intention models to predict entrepreneurial behaviour. However, there is compelling evidence that entrepreneurial intention alone is an insufficient predictor of subsequent entrepreneurial behaviour. Thus, it is inadequate to prepare people to deal with difficulties of initiating action and striving towards goal attainment. Hence, there is a need for a more proximal predictor of entrepreneurial behaviour that can promote goal striving. Self-regulation (simplistically thought of as ‘will-power’) has been shown to be a better and more reliable predictor of intention in other fields. In fact, it was found that supporting intention with self-regulation can enhance the action prediction by up to 18%. In entrepreneurship, self-regulation has been suggested to differentiate people with entrepreneurial intention from active entrepreneurs. Against this background, this thesis investigates the processes underlying the forming of entrepreneurial intention to identify predictors of self-regulation. Hence, it extends existing intention models with self-regulation that facilitate action initiation. Consequently, this study focuses on the link between entrepreneurial intention and self-regulation. In addition, due to the salient influence of culture in Saudi Arabia’s context, the study explores the effect of cultural values on entrepreneurial intention. The conceptual framework is developed to explain the link between entrepreneurial intention and self-regulation and the effect of cultural values. This proposed two main levels, namely, goal setting and goal striving. The former reflects forming entrepreneurial intention and deliberative mind-set. The latter reflects forming implementation intention and implemental mind-set. This model is then tested through questionnaires among 405 non-entrepreneurs working in the private sector in Saudi Arabia. The data collected are analysed using the statistical tool, partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). The study found that several factors and their interactions are important to explain the relationship between entrepreneurial intention and self-regulation. First, concrete goal intention can be formulated through desirability, feasibility, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy. However, this firm goal intention does not lead to self-regulation. Second, after formulating concrete goal intention, people can increase their self-regulation through implementation intention and optimism. The effect of cultural values is important as they appear to reduce entrepreneurial self-efficacy and, hence, decrease self-regulation. The outcomes have theoretical implications and lead to policy recommendations that can support better self-regulation and bridge the entrepreneurial intention-action gap, making a valued contribution to the development of entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.
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