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Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

Studying the influence of entrepreneurial attributes, subjective norms and

perceived desirability on entrepreneurial intentions
Usman Yousaf Amjad Shamim Hafsa Siddiqui Maham Raina

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Usman Yousaf Amjad Shamim Hafsa Siddiqui Maham Raina , (2015),"Studying the influence of
entrepreneurial attributes, subjective norms and perceived desirability on entrepreneurial intentions",
Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Vol. 7 Iss 1 pp. 23 - 34
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Studying the influence of

entrepreneurial attributes,
subjective norms and perceived
desirability on entrepreneurial
Downloaded by MAHIDOL UNIVERSITY At 07:41 18 February 2015 (PT)

Usman Yousaf


Received 9 March 2014
Revised 3 November 2014
Accepted 4 November 2014

QASMS, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Amjad Shamim
Department of Management & Humanities,
Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Malaysia, Seri Iskandar, Malaysia, and

Hafsa Siddiqui and Maham Raina

Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to study the influence of entrepreneurial attributes, subjective
norms and perceived desirability on entrepreneurial intentions.
Design/methodology/approach The data were collected from the business students of the
Quaid-i-Azam School of Management Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. In total,
200 questionnaires were circulated among students of which, 185 were returned, representing 92.5 per
cent response rate. After discarding incomplete and biased questionnaires, 170 were left for further
analysis. The SPSS 20.0 was used to perform statistical analysis.
Findings The research finds that students entrepreneurial attitude, perceived desirability and
subjective norms significantly lead to the development of students intentions to become entrepreneurs.
Interestingly, the students existing skills and capabilities do not prove to be a significant predictor of
their intentions to become entrepreneurs. The study concludes that the students can become successful
entrepreneurs even without existing entrepreneurial skills and capabilities, provided that they have the
entrepreneurial attitude, desirability and support by the community.
Research limitations/implications Limited sample size is one of the main limitations which
confines its generalizability. Nonetheless, this research can create a ripple effect to further explore the
factors on a large-scale sample in different cities, universities and countries.
Originality/value In the existing economic crises in the country, developing entrepreneurs is one of
the important ways to boost-up financial growth. Students are one of the best potential segments, in this
regard, to be developed as potential future entrepreneurs. Research on students intentions to become
entrepreneurs in Pakistan is limited. This research had added value in both theory and practice by
identifying the factors that can develop students intentions to become entrepreneurs.
Keywords Subjective norms, Entrepreneurial attitude, Perceived desirability,
Theory of planned behavior
Paper type Research paper

Journal of Entrepreneurship in
Emerging Economies
Vol. 7 No. 1, 2015
pp. 23-34
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JEEE-03-2014-0005


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Notwithstanding the fact that entrepreneurship has a significant role in the economic
development of a country (Stel et al., 2005), opportunities for entrepreneurial
development have not been paid due consideration in Pakistan. In the past few years, the
intentions and desirability to become an entrepreneur have raised greater interest than
the desire to be an employee. Considering the economic factors, entrepreneurship is
considered to be a fundamental resource for financial boost, increases in job creation,
economic competitiveness and social interest advancements (Linan et al., 2005). This is
one of the reasons that most recent educationists, practitioners and policymakers have
improved their efforts in encouraging an entrepreneurial approach within society. A
meticulous center of attention of such efforts lies in the area of graduate
entrepreneurship (Nabi and Holden, 2008) and entrepreneurial intentions (Krueger
et al., 2000). More recently, the focus has remained to intensify and escalate plans to
support and promote the idea of entrepreneurship as an attractive and cost-effective
substitute to salary-based employment among students around the globe. First, the
importance of education or the know-how of entrepreneurial practices among the
students for the booming performance of a new startup is well-acknowledged by
administrators, policymakers and researchers (Kennedy and Drennan, 2001).
Second, the restructuring processes in organizations, which are following escalating
competition on the worldwide market and earlier compensations related to wage
employment, are established in mostly large firms; for instance, job safety or loyalty
rewards now present reduced attraction, thereby increasing self-employment
desirability (Kolvereid, 1996; Luthje and Franke, 2003). In such situations, the
entrepreneurial activities need to be given special attention, especially in developing
countries because entrepreneurship is one of most important areas of concern to
uphold the economic development of any country (Stel et al., 2005).
On one side, where entrepreneurial activities are being given special considerations
globally, in the meantime, startups are lagging behind in Pakistan (Global
Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2012). The main problem is that a greater percentage of fresh
graduates passing from universities have a preference in searching for a wage
employment for themselves rather than exploring the opportunities for an
entrepreneurial career. According to the report, the established business ownership
rate in Pakistan is 4.7 per cent, which is far less than the average rate of factor-driven
economies (12.6 per cent). The report also puts forth the fact that since Pakistans
Independence in August 1947, consecutive governments concentrated on the growth
and progress of large-scale industrial units both in the corporate and public sector.
Nevertheless, the strategy to promote entrepreneurship and small business enterprises
was completely ignored. According to an estimate, about 61.6 per cent employed people
in Pakistan during the years 2010 and 2011 were measured to be susceptible, that is, at
risk of lacking decent work. Therefore, this susceptibility needs due concentration,
especially where youth susceptibility is 60.9 per cent.
To identify what can stimulate youths entrepreneurial intentions, this study is
carried out. According to Molaei et al. (2014), entrepreneurial intention is one of the
biggest predictors of entrepreneurial behavior; therefore, special consideration should
be given to explore the causes behind students entrepreneurial intentions. From the
perspective of a potential entrepreneur, like university students, entrepreneurship
begins with the idea (Hayton and Cholakova, 2012), but whether the idea is transformed

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into reality or not depends on many factors. To make it a reality, the students face
various tangible and intangible challenges. Tangible challenges include the availability
of finance and space, whereas intangible challenges include the entrepreneurial skills
and capabilities, entrepreneurial will, entrepreneurial education, support from parents,
family members, colleagues and so forth. The research on tangible challenges in
entrepreneurship is well explored, but how intangible challenges develop
entrepreneurial intentions of students in Pakistan is rare. Therefore, this study raised
the following questions:
Do students entrepreneurial skills and capabilities play any role in developing
their entrepreneurial intentions?
Do students entrepreneurial attitudes significantly lead to entrepreneurial
Does the desire to be an entrepreneur really transform into entrepreneurial
Do subjective norms play any role in developing students entrepreneurial
To answer the above-mentioned questions, a survey of business students at the leading
university of Pakistan was carried out. In the following section, theoretical concern
behind the development of students entrepreneurial intentions followed by empirical
results, conclusion and future research directions are presented.
Literature review
The method of entrepreneurship has been well-defined as a managerial behavior which
reliably exploits opportunities to provide results beyond ones own competencies
(Kristiansen and Indarti, 2004). It needs innovative people, who are means of revolution
but may not be entrepreneurs in a stern sense. Someone with a vision, who recognizes a
new opportunity, is inclined to act on it and initiates something and is known to be an
entrepreneur (Krueger et al., 2000). An intention to become an entrepreneur is one thing
to make the process of organizing projects sensation or in other words become
self-employed (Tkachev and Kolvereid, 1999). According to Thompson (2009) and Bird
(1988) entrepreneurial intentions can be referred to as a deliberate realization and belief
of an individual with respect to his/her intentions to start a new business enterprise in
the future.
An entrepreneurial career offers future graduates with advantages such as an
opportunity to accomplish monetary autonomy along with serving the overall economy
in the form of economic growth, job opportunities and innovative solutions to modern
day needs. Nonetheless, the understanding of the factors that affect students intentions
to become businessmen and the relationship between students attitudes and
entrepreneurial intentions are relatively rare (Krueger, 1993). Those researches which
have been conducted in any perspective of entrepreneurial intentions, primarily studied
the antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions using either the Shaperos model of the
entrepreneurial event (SEE) or Ajzens theory of planned behaviour (TPB) (Krueger
et al., 2000). However, there are many similarities among the two approaches as SEE
propagates that entrepreneurial intentions are dependent upon the perceived
desirability (attractiveness) and perceived feasibility (personal capability) of the




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proposed entrepreneurial venture along with ones ability to act in a timely manner
when an opportunity is spotted. On the other hand, TPB considers attitudes to be the
most critical predictors of entrepreneurial intentions. TPB explains entrepreneurial
intentions using perceived behavioral control, attitude toward the act and subjective
norms. Furthermore, attitudes toward entrepreneurship have been associated with
perceived desirability, while perceived behavioral control has been associated with
perceived feasibility (Autio et al., 2001). Therefore, it can be concluded that the two
models differ on the dimensions of propensity and the subjective norms, along with the
role of perceived social pressure in favor or against the entrepreneurial behavior (Ajzen,
1991). Both of these models have been used as a process-based approach in many studies
(Krueger, 1993; Krueger and Brazeal, 1994; Krueger and Carsrud, 1993). Importantly,
Krueger et al. (2000) compared both TPB and SEE models using about-to-graduate
business students, who had to make a career choice very soon, as the respondents of the
study. The research mostly identified the advantages of both approaches in explaining
entrepreneurial intentions. The intention is linked with attitudes, more precisely with
perceived desirability and feasibility (Gatewood et al., 1995). In general, several other
studies have found that entrepreneurial intentionality is determined by many diverging
factors other than the one defined in these two models (Hisrich et al., 2007; Kuratko and
Hodgetts, 2007; Nabi and Holden, 2008; Harris and Gibson, 2008; Jones et al., 2008).
Because these models have been widely proven as better predictors of entrepreneurial
intentions, this study take these models as underpinning theories to see how these
factors develop students entrepreneurial intentions in Pakistan.
Intentions to become an entrepreneur
An intention to become an entrepreneur is one thing, to make the process of organizing
projects is, in other words, to become self-employed (Kristiansen and Indarti, 2004).
Entrepreneurial abilities and skills
Entrepreneurship can be referred to as the process involving innovation and
transformation of a product (regardless of source) into an improved product or service or
work-seeking benefit of market opportunities (Maguire, 2003). Related streams of
research on reasoning suggested that the entrepreneurs are the ones who identify the
opportunities, as they are more competent in recognizing patterns and observing the
connections between changes, trends and occasions that appear unrelated at first
glimpse (Baron, 2006). According to Stevenson and Jarillo (1990), core entrepreneurial
skills include accumulated knowledge that helps to solve problems. Entrepreneurs as
managers get recognition through their role as a leader, leadership abilities and their
relevant profession (Guo, 2009). Another important skill that successful entrepreneurs
have is their ability to recognize and weigh up opportunities provided with the
ever-increasing flow of information in the modern era of technology and competition
(Hansson and Mnsted, 2008).
Attitude toward behavior
Attitude is the best of behavioral intentions (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975), although the
behavioral intentions lead to over behavior which is primarily the actions of the
people (Robbins and Coulter, 2007). Entrepreneurial behavior is the set of activities
carried out by an entrepreneur (Meyer, 2002) which is, in other words, an action
performed by an entrepreneur (Bateman and Crant, 1993; Hbert and Link, 2006).

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The activities performed by an entrepreneur are focused by behavioral approach

and personality traits and are considered an ancillary action to behavior. In the same
class, the researchers measured the behavior of entrepreneurship and interaction of
the entrepreneur with response to existing circumstances and his/her external
environment and conditions (Offstein et al., 2005). It emphasizes that intention is an
exact indicator of planned behavior, particularly in the scenarios where behavior is
problematic to control, exceptional, or involves the time intervals which are
unpredictable, therefore justifying why many empirical studies applied the theory
of planned behavior in psychological (Kolvereid and Isaksen, 2006). Studies on the
subject of entrepreneurial intentions have also studied behavioral control variable
in a broad spectrum through items that highlight the attractiveness of personality to
start a business (Autio et al., 2001).

Subjective norms
Subjective norms represent normative belief about entrepreneurship as a career choice
is likely motivation to comply with these normative beliefs (Leroy et al., 2009).
Additionally, these pressures can become a starting point or a barrier to the
development of entrepreneurial career, and this depends on the social environment. It
was found that those who make a positive expression about family businesses, project
perceived desirability and the perceived feasibility of starting their own business. Early
childhood experience facing harsh conditions or frequent rearrangements also predicted
a positive impact on the autonomy of individuals and attitude toward self-employed
(Drennan et al., 2005). On the same side, it has been suggested that the direct experience
of a business venture or starting a new business will affect the attitudes and perceptions
about entrepreneurship and career (Rhodes, 2002).

Perceived desirability
The desire to look at the degree of attractiveness one finds in starting his own
business. This variable refers to ones attitude toward entrepreneurship (Krueger,
2000). A positive relationship has been established between the desirability and
intention to become entrepreneur through research work before. Individuals are
provoked to become an entrepreneur if they believe that being an entrepreneur is most
desirable to them and self-employment is more desirable than working for others. The
difference between the desire to be self-employed and work for others provides a
positive drive to the motivation to become an entrepreneur (Praag and Cramer, 2001;
Levesque et al., 2002). People would prefer to be an entrepreneur if they believe that the
rewards and benefits of the entrepreneurship outweigh the benefits of work because of
the fact that the expected rewards depend on an individuals assessment of
entrepreneurship, the attitude toward risk and perceptions of the desirability of being an
entrepreneur (Praag and Cramer, 2001).

Theoretical framework
The factors influencing students intentions to become entrepreneurs is shown in
Figure 1.




abilies and skills


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Figure 1.
Factors influencing
students intentions
to become

Subjecve norms

H1. Entrepreneurial abilities and skills have a significant role in developing
students intentions to become entrepreneurs.
H2. Entrepreneurial attitude has a significant role in developing students
intentions to become entrepreneurs.
H3. Perceived desirability has a significant role in developing students intentions to
become entrepreneurs.
H4. Subjective norms have a significant role in developing students intentions to
become entrepreneurs.
The data were collected from the business students of Quaid-i-Azam University,
Islamabad, Pakistan, which is the number one university in the country, producing
high-quality business graduates. A 5-point Likert scale was used where 1 represented
strongly disagree and 5 represented strongly agree. The scale was adapted from
Solesvik (2007) where six items were used to measure the entrepreneurial skills and
abilities of students, six items were used to measure intentions to become entrepreneurs,
three items were used to measure perceived desirability and three items were used for
perceived feasibility measurement. Similarly, six items were used to measure
entrepreneurial attitude and subjective norms, respectively. In all, 200 questionnaires
were circulated among students, of which, 185 were returned, representing 92.5 per cent
response rate. Eight questionnaires were found as incomplete, while seven were
observed as biased, and therefore, deleted. Final data analysis was performed on 170
valid questionnaires.
Statistical analysis
Demographic statistics. A special consideration was given to the gender; therefore, it was
desired to get equal responses from both male and female. Interestingly, the remaining
useable questionnaires were representing equal gender ratio, in which 50 per cent
responses were male and 50 per cent were female.

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All respondents were young, 25.3 per cent falls under the age of 18-20 years, 63.5
per cent were from 21 to 25 years old and remaining 11.2 per cent were above 25
years old.
Reliability and validity statistics. The reliability of items was checked through
Cronbachs alpha. The value of Cronbachs alpha for intention to become an
entrepreneur is 0.853, entrepreneurial abilities and skills is 0.743, perceived desirability
is 0.855, entrepreneurial attitude is 0.798 and subjective norms is 0.804. All values are
greater than 0.70, meeting the reliability criteria defined by Nunnally and Bernstein
(1994). Intern items correlation was tested to check validity of the items.
Descriptive statistics. The mean value of intention to become an entrepreneur is 3.66
with standard deviation of 0.76, entrepreneur abilities and skills is 3.77 with standard
deviation of 0.57, perceived desirability is 3.87 with standard deviation of 0.81,
subjective norms is 3.39 with standard deviation of 0.68 and entrepreneurial attitude is
3.71 with standard deviation of 0.64.
Correlation analysis. Next, the correlation analysis was performed. All variables were
positively correlated ranging from 0.334 to 0.749 and are shown in Table I.
Regression analysis. The impact of entrepreneurial abilities and skills, perceived
desirability, subjective norms and entrepreneurial attitude on intentions to become an
entrepreneur was identified by using multiple regression analysis. Overall, the model
remains significant with F value 76.511. The R2 change in intention to become
entrepreneur caused by the entrepreneurial abilities and skills, perceived desirability,
subjective norms and entrepreneurial attitude is 0.655, indicating a significant
contribution of these factors in developing students intentions to become entrepreneurs.
The results are shown in Table II.
Individual impact of all factors on intentions to become entrepreneurs is presented in
Table III. As shown, the role of entrepreneurial attitude in developing students
intention to become entrepreneur is highly significant, that is, p value 0.001, 0.284
Correlation of the
independent variables
with the dependent
Intention to become
Entrepreneurial abilities
and skills
Perceived desirability
Subjective norms
Entrepreneurial attitude




Intention to Entrepreneurial
abilities and
Perceived Subjective Entrepreneurial





Adjusted R2

Standard error of the estimate





Note: Predictors: (constant), attitude toward behavior, abilities and skills, subjective norms,
perceived desirability

Table I.
Correlation analysis

Table II.
Model summary


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with a standard error of 0.086 and t value 3.283. Hence, H2 is accepted, indicating that
entrepreneurial attitude has a significant role in developing students intentions to
become entrepreneurs. This finding confirmed the assumption of the TPB which says,
attitude leads to intentions. The impact of perceived desirability in developing students
intention to become entrepreneur also remains highly significant, that is, p value is 0.000
with t value 6.785 and 0.427 with a standard error of 0.063. Hence, H3 is also
accepted, and it is concluded that the perceived desirability among students to become
entrepreneur significantly leads to their intentions development. Similarly, the role of
subjective norms significantly leads to intentions, that is, p value 0.002 with t value
3.125 and 0.196 with a standard error of 0.063. Hence, H4 is also accepted, meeting
the assumptions of the TPB which states that subjective norms positively lead to
intentions. However, the role of entrepreneurial abilities and skills on students
intentions to become entrepreneurs remains insignificant. As shown in the table, the
p value is 0.060 which is greater than threshold value of 0.05, the t value 1.892
which is also comparatively low. B value is just 0.135 with a standard error of 0.072.
Hence, H1 is rejected. This finding shows that students entrepreneurial abilities
and skills are not necessarily important to develop their intentions to become
entrepreneurs (Table IV).
Discussion and conclusion
By considering the existing economic situation worldwide, in general, and in
Pakistan, specifically, producing entrepreneurs is one of the biggest challenges.
Presently, the established business ownership rate in the country is just 4.7 per cent
which is far less than the average rate of factor-driven economies which is 12.6 per cent

Sum of squares


Mean square







Table III.

Notes: a Dependent variable: intention to become entrepreneur; b predictors: (constant),

entrepreneurial attitude, entrepreneurial abilities and skills, subjective norms, perceived desirability

coefficients for the
independent variables
Entrepreneurial abilities
and skills
Entrepreneurial attitude
Perceived desirability
Subjective norms
Table IV.
Regression analysis

Standard error





Note: a Dependent variable: intention to become entrepreneur







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(GEM Uganda, 2009). Because of the economic, political, environmental and

socioeconomic crises, finding the suitable jobs for graduates according to their level is
very difficult. However, because of the unavailability of entrepreneurial opportunities,
most of the graduates spend much of their time to search for jobs. The graduates with
professional degrees from reputed universities spend about five to ten initial years to
reach to level of the job of their comfort. This unbalanced situation can only be raised if
either the economic situation of the country is uplifted with a significant political and
systems change or through creating entrepreneurial intentions. If the entrepreneurial
intentions of the young graduates are developed, it will significantly contribute in
creating further employments for others, on one side, and will contribute to the economic
stability of the country, on the other side.
By considering the existing employment situation and the need of
entrepreneurial intentions, this research is carried out on business students of the
top university of the country. Beyond considering the financial constraints for
entrepreneurship, the research focused on socio-behavioral factors that can develop
students intentions to become entrepreneurs. The study finds that the students with
entrepreneurial attitude have higher intentions to become entrepreneurs. These
findings are in line with the findings of Morrison (2000) which states that
entrepreneurial intentions are positively triggered by attitudes. Similarly,
subjective norms were also found to be significant predictors of intentions to become
entrepreneurs. These findings are in accordance with the TPB (Ajzen, 1991) which
states that attitude and subjective norms are significant predictors of intentions.
Those individuals who have a prior exposure to a business and the opinion of their
family and friends hold important to them show a different intention scenario.
Those who have a positive opinion are more inclined toward showing an intention to
become an entrepreneur. Families and friends, by providing greater appreciation
and motivation to an individual regarding their career as an entrepreneur, can
positively contribute toward the uprising ratio of entrepreneurs. Similarly, the
study found perceived desirability as a significant predictor of students intentions
to become entrepreneurs. This finding is akin to the findings of Douglas and
Shepherd (2000) which state that greater the perceived desirability of the
individuals, greater is the intention to become an entrepreneur.
Interestingly, the entrepreneurial abilities and skills at student level are not found to
be significant predictors of intentions to become entrepreneurs. Because gaining
entrepreneurial abilities and skills is a gradual process which most often boosts up after
facing a real-life situation, the abilities and skills does not create impediment in
developing students intentions. Nonetheless, entrepreneurial attitude, perceived
desirability and subjective norms are necessary to develop their intentions. These
findings meet two of the assumptions of TPB, according to which attitude and
subjective norms lead to intentions.
The findings come to a conclusion that Pakistan being a developing country should
mainly focus on the entrepreneurial activities, especially in the students who are the
future of the country. The responsibility of educationists is to start entrepreneurial
education at university and college level to create interest among students about
entrepreneurship, while the responsibility of the policymakers is to provide
opportunities to young graduates to start their own businesses. This will significantly
contribute toward the economic growth of the country.




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Limitations and future research

There are certain limitations in the research. The first is that the sample size is limited
which comprises only business graduates. The students belonging to other degree
programs can also have their intentions to become an entrepreneur in their respective
domains. Therefore, the sample size should be increased and also tested on other degree
students to further identify their entrepreneurial intentions. Second, the financial
perspective as an important predictor of entrepreneurial intentions has not been
investigated in this study. Further, researchers are suggested to modify the model with
financial perspective and test on a large sample of students of various educational
degree programs to identify a comprehensive conclusion. The inclusion of interviews
and focus-group discussions with students belonging to different fields of study would
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Corresponding author
Usman Yousaf can be contacted at:

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