Effects of Entrepreneurial Competence and Planning Guidance on the Relation Between University Students’ Attitude and Entrepreneurial Intention

 The Journal of Entrepreneurship

The students’ entrepreneurial career intention (ECI) involves several individual and contextual predictors. Psychological factors and personality traits, such as risk propensity and locus of control (internal or external), creativity, emotional intelligence, values, motivations, and, above all, attitudes stand as individual predictors of ECI. Entrepreneurial education (EE), a set of actions aimed at the development of entrepreneurial competencies (ECs), is one of the main contextual predictors of students’ ECI, alongside family influence and network of friends. Those competencies mainly refer to a set of skills for identifying and exploring entrepreneurial opportunities.

Different Centres for Entrepreneurship seek to expose university students to an entrepreneurial culture, besides promoting the development of ECs, in order tosensitise them to an entrepreneurial career. Although varied activities related to entrepreneurship in those new initiatives absorb only one third of the time of teachers working in Brazilian centres, a much shorter time than that found in developed countries. Other institutions also play an important role in the development of culture and ECs, such as Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE) and National Association of Studies in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management (ANEGEPE).

Despite all those initiatives by higher education institutions (HEIs) and organisations specific to the field of entrepreneurship, studies point to the incipience of entrepreneurship training in Brazil and the world, and the institutions that do so usually make use of training in business planning and teach entrepreneurship in an ultra-neoliberal perspective. A more holistic view on the training of entrepreneurs and, consequently, their contributions to the development of the country is needed, to provide students with an opportunity to experience first hand the reality of organisational processes and problems in the creation of new businesses.

While we face these institutional shortcomings, the field of knowledge in entrepreneurship is rapidly advancing. For example, the understanding that entrepreneurial attitudes (EA) have a direct effect on ECI is consensual and the existing models on entrepreneurial intention reaffirm this, with the predominance of predictor variables-attitude, perceived behavioural control and subjective norm. However, the combination of individual and contextual factors seems to produce different effects from those arising from the effect of each isolated factor related to the ECI of university students.

In this study, we chose to test the role of two moderating variables that seem to have important effects on ECI. One of them is the planning guidance (PG), which refers to a person’s tendency to think and base their current actions on reasons, objectives and consequences they intend to achieve in the future. Thinking about the future has become a more widespread orientation and expectations about the future have improved considerably, although there is a tendency of not-so-optimistic scenarios. The assumption is that students, who invest in prospecting their future tend to strengthen their positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship. Self-concept training, for example, is considered one of the effective ways to improve the future orientation of those students, because knowledge about their future professional choices is believed to tend to minimise failures. Having PG requires, among other aspects, to think strategically about positive and negative aspects before making a decision and sacrificing the present to achieve what one wants in one’s future.

The other variable to be tested as a moderator of the relation between EA and ECI of students is entrepreneurial competence (EC), defined as the articulation among knowledge, skills and attitudes to create and develop business. EC starts to receive qualifications from organisations and groups, being more than the sum of individual skills.

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