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Entrepreneurship has captured the attention of both scholars and policy makers during the last decades in the whole world (Turker and Selcuk, 2009). This has been caused by the increasing need for entrepreneurs who are acknowledged to accelerate economic development through generating novel ideas and converting those ideas into lucrative enterprises (Kuratko, 2003). According to Reynolds (1987), Zahra (1999), Turker and Selcuk (2009), the entrepreneurial activities are known to provide employment opportunity and enhance competitiveness. Therefore, nurturing entrepreneurship through twofold focus-devoting attention to the contemporary situation and mapping out the future context of entrepreneurship is indispensable. This is because it stimulates growth in a "growth-conscious world".
"â€¦we can make an effort to learn how one can stimulate the degree and intensity of entrepreneurial activityâ€¦" (Baumol, 1968, p. 71).
In such a learning process, both policy makers and scholars ought to give attention to the question of why some people choose to be self-employed or start their own business while others prefer traditional salary-based jobs.
According to Turker and Selcuk (2009), fostering entrepreneurship needs a twofold policy that should center on both the current situation and future prospect of entrepreneurship. However, many scholars and policy makers dedicate their attention to the first foci of issues while in the earlier studies in the literature, several scholars primarily focus on the effect of personality characteristics on decision making process (Brockhaus, 1980; Johnson, 1990; Bonnet and Furnhan, 1991). Although the results vary across the studies, they often indicate a link between entrepreneurship intention and some personality factors, such as risk-taking ability, need for achievement, locus of control and self-confidence. (Turker and Selcuk, 2009). However, an individual is surrounded by an extensive range of cultural, social, economical, political, demographical, and technological factors. Therefore personality traits cannot be isolated entirely from these contextual factors.
In social science, it is more precise to explain every phenomenon by taking into account the interactions of diverse factors. (Turker and Selcuk, 2009). Therefore, even if genetics or personality traits have some impacts on entrepreneurial proclivity, it is better to consider the impact of some contextual factors. Recently, Mitchell, Busenitz, Bird, Gaglio, McMullen, and More (2007) suggested that future entrepreneurship research be centered on social cognitive categories- person, context, cognition and motivation (Linan, Urbano and Guerrero, 2009). The concern about understanding the key elements involved in the entrepreneurial process has remarkably grown in the previous few years. Many studies have focused on entrepreneurial cognitions which is defined by Mitchell et al. (2002) as the knowledge structures that people use to make assessments, judgments, and growth (Linan, Urbano and Guerrero, 2009). In this sense, there is evidence indicating that the cognitive level is influenced by individual perceptions towards venturing, together with personal, sociological and environmental variables. Therefore, an opportunity to comprehend entrepreneurship better is by examining the deep beliefs that are behind the cognitive structures, entrepreneurial attitudes, entrepreneurial intentions and entrepreneurial actions (Krueger, 2007).
The growing body of literature argues that, intentions play a very relevant role in the decision to start a new enterprise (Linan, and Chen, 2009). Baron (2004) and Shaver and Scott (1991) have highlighted the significance of cognitive variables in understanding this personal decision. In their view, this cognitive focus provides additional insights into the intricate process of entrepreneurship. Therefore, given the remarkable success of a cognitive approach in the analysis of intentions in the other fields (e.g., Psychology, education), there are justification for predicting that it may yield positive results when applied to the field of entrepreneurship (Baron, 2003). Further review of the literature on entrepreneurship shows that most of the scholars have focused on adult entrepreneurs who are examined after choosing their entrepreneurial careers (Turker and Selcuk, 2009). However, according to Liles (1974), individual are more likely to start a business within the age range of 25 to 44 years. Therefore, it is also quite critical to focus on people who are younger than 25 years and which factors affect their intentions to start-up an enterprise in the future. According to Henderson and Robertson (2000), relatively little is known about young adults view on entrepreneurship.
Since the education offered by a university mostly influences the career selection of students, universities are seen as potential sources of future entrepreneurs. Therefore, with an understanding of university students' entrepreneurial intentions, there will be better prediction of whether they will take real action to start a new venture. And promoting entrepreneurial intentions of university students can effectively enhance possibility that the students will engage in entrepreneurship. This is in support of Ajzen (1991) perspective that, the decision making process of creating new business enterprise can be regarded as a reasoned behavior or planned behavior and there are strong relationships between intentions toward a behavior and an actual act.
In parallel with the world, there is an increasing curiosity about entrepreneurship education in Kenya as well. However, it seems far from being a national policy matter and it is quiet clear that the existing level of entrepreneurship education in Kenya is quite insufficient to foster entrepreneurship. In fact, entrepreneurship is one of the main strategies of industrial policy towards the full membership to European Union (EU). However, the lack of comprehensive policy framework for entrepreneurial education is a significant impediment to achieve a rapid progress. Therefore, there is a need to focus on entrepreneurship education. According to Turker and Selcuk (2009), understanding perceptions of students at higher education level is a necessary step in this process of entrepreneurship. Recognition of cultivating entrepreneurship as a function of university education is evidenced by the growing number of debates and publications in professional journals. Hence, it is important to understand the formation of entrepreneurship intention of students and its relationship to different environmental factors. Studying entrepreneurial intention therefore, can be divided into:
The individual aspect: In order to become novice, serial and even portfolio entrepreneurs, individual must first become nascent entrepreneurs (Westhead and Wright, 1998). Therefore, the process that underlies the emergence of entrepreneurial intentions and behavior is of utmost importance (Drnovsek and Eriksona, 2005).
The social aspects: Global Entrepreneurial Monitoring Research reports correlations between a country's per capita GDP, national economic growth rate and the level and type of entrepreneurial activity in the country. In this sense, the level of entrepreneurial intention reflects economic potential and economic environment of the country (Wu and Wu, 2008).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The traditional graduate job market long -term decline mainly due to the downsizing and restructuring strategies by large organizations has caused an expansion of educational offerings. This has been brought out by dissatisfaction with the traditional fortune 500 focus on business education as it was voiced by students and accreditation bodies (Solomon, 2007). In recent years, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education has become generally fashionable and viewed as the panacea for the stagnating or declining economic activity and the high rate of unemployment (Matlay, 2001). According to Turker and Selcuk (2008), entrepreneurial activities are known to provide employment opportunities and enhance competitiveness. It has also been increasingly embraced as the most effective way to facilitate the transition of a growing graduate population from education to work force.
Despite this major focus of attention on entrepreneurship to enhance the willingness and boost the students chances of becoming entrepreneurs, high unemployment has remained one of the greatest challenges to Africa's development (ILO, 2008). The overall unemployment by 2005/2006 was 12.7% with urban and rural areas having unemployment rates of 19.9% and 9.8% respectively (KNBS, 2007). This has continued to be the major obstacles to full utilization of human resources (Wambugu et al., 2009).
Many policies, programmes and projects have been directed to this problem. For example the government of Kenya; trade unions movement; Federation of Kenyan Employees (FKE); International Labor Organization (ILO); and workers themselves has tried to identify appropriate intentions, to address the problem of unemployment. However, despite all the efforts of the stakeholders, unemployment has remained the subject of intense debate and discussion in Kenya especially in the aftermath of the violence that followed December 2007 General Elections.
Several studies have provided alternative explanations but they have mostly focused on adult entrepreneurs and the affect of personality characteristics on the decision making process (Brockhaus, 1980; Johnson, 1990: Bonnet and Furnham, 1991). This adult entrepreneur has been examined after choosing their entrepreneurial careers. In social science however, it is more accurate to explain every phenomenon with taking into account the interactions of various factors, rather than considering the impact of a single factor. Therefore, even if personality traits have some influence on entrepreneurial inclination, it might be better to consider the influences of some contextual factors (Turker and Selcuk, 2008). Therefore, personality traits cannot be isolated from the contextual factors in every environment.
The growing body of literature has argued that entrepreneurial intentions play a key role in the process of decision making to start a new enterprise. Therefore, understanding the influence of contextual factors on entrepreneurial intention especially on the future context is essential. On the other hand, since the education offered by the universities mostly influence the career choice of students, universities are seen as potential sources of future entrepreneurs and therefore, to address the unemployment problem, evidence based policies, programmes and project are needed (Turker and Selcuk, 2008). The purpose of this research therefore, is to establish the relationship between entrepreneurial environmental factors and the entrepreneurial intentions of university students in new venture creation.
This will help the policy makers and other stake holders who are concerned about the high unemployment for a number of reasons. For example; the unemployment rate is a key macro economic indicator and therefore, with high unemployment rate it indicates unhealthy economy. Secondly, unemployment represents issues of scarce resources hence lowering GDP. Increased unemployment is also associated with economic hardships such as loss of income, criminal activity, drug addiction, psychological disorder and lost of self -confidence. To fulfill the above purpose, a quantitative type of research study will survey university students in Kenya.
1.3 General Objective
The study aims to explore the relationship between entrepreneurial environmental factors and entrepreneurial intentions of university students' in new venture creation.
1.4 Research hypotheses:
Two sets of hypotheses will be tested; one set on motivational antecedents and the other set on the exogenous variables influencing the endogenous variables. The following are the research hypotheses.
Ha: Motivational antecedents have positive influence on the entrepreneurial intentions.
H1a: Attitude towards entrepreneurship has positive impact on entrepreneurial intentions.
H1b: Subjective norm has a positive impact on university students' entrepreneurial intention.
H1c: Perceived behavioral control has a positive impact on the university students' entrepreneurial intention.
H1d: Subjective norm has a positive impact on university students' attitude towards the behavior.
H1e: Subjective norm has positive impact on university students' perceived behavioral control.
Hb: The prevailing environmental factors (exogenous variables) have positive impact on the motivational antecedents.
H2a: It is expected that university students who have a low level of education are more interested in entrepreneurship.
H2b: Differences and a relationship (positive or negative) are expected between the effects of academic major in determining entrepreneurial interests.
H2c: Differences are expected between the effects of academic major in determining perceived behavioral control.
H2d: It is expected that university students who have good academic achievement have more entrepreneurial interest than those who have bad academic achievement.
H2e: It is expected that university students who have good academic achievement have more perceived behavioral control than those who have bad academic achievement.
H2f: Closer valuation has a positive impact on the attitude towards the entrepreneurial behavior.
H2g: Closer valuation has a positive impact on subjective norms.
H2h: Social valuation has a positive impact on subjective norms.
H2i: Social valuation has a positive impact on perceived behavioral control.
H2j: Perceived opportunity has a positive impact on perceived behavioral control.
1.6 Significance of the study
This study is intended to offer new knowledge concerning the relationship between the entrepreneurial environmental factors and entrepreneurial intentions of the university students. The study will therefore (1) contribute to the theory of entrepreneurship and offer practical implication for policy makers by providing understanding and way of designing and creating policy framework that promotes entrepreneurship (2) the study will also provide insight about the theoretical entrepreneurship model and its validity in different cultural environments. (3) The outcome obtained from this study will contribute immensely to the ongoing discussion on entrepreneurship as a panacea to the high unemployment rate and the different means of promoting it. (4) The research will also contribute to the understanding of the convolution involved in the decision making process of an individual or group of individuals concerning entrepreneurship especially in new enterprises creations.
1.6 Assumptions of the study
The study has stated a number of assumptions which will remain constant during the entire study. These assumptions include: First, the University students will be quite rational and they will make systematic decisions using the information that is available to them and therefore the unconscious motives will not be considered throughout. Secondly, the students are expected to consider the implications of their actions before they decide to engage or not to engage in the entrepreneurial intentions. Lastly, the University students perceived behavioral control will be used to predict the actual behavior control; however this may not always be the case.
Limitations of the Study
This study focuses on the intention and it is quite clear from previous studies in literature that, intentions may not turn into actual behavior in the future context. Therefore, a respondent may state a high entrepreneurial intention in the survey but choose a completely different career path in future. On the other hand, the measure of subjective norms may be problematic because different individuals have different experience on the social valuation. In fact, other researchers argue that a subjective norm multiplied by motives to comply measure would be more adequate (Liñán and Chen, 2009). Therefore, some hypotheses might be affected.
The collected data will be based on students' perceptions and it is possible that difference exists between perceptions and reality of different individuals. It's obvious that, a risk prevail on perceptions of students on outside world compared to reality. The other limitation is in the data collection process since only cross- sectional data will be used. The other limitation is that some of the factors in the hypothesized model are broadly defined and therefore will be broadly measured in the survey and this may not give a general analysis because it is not focusing on a specific context.
Delimitations of the Study
The study is interested in studying the relationship between entrepreneurial environmental factors and entrepreneurial intention in Kenya. Therefore, the focus is on the entrepreneurial process and specifically on the individuals (Entrepreneur) behavior in that process. This is because the process of starting a new venture is quite complex especially from the individual perspective who are influenced by internal and external factors. On the other hand, the scope of the study will be limited to the process of entrepreneurship and specifically on the individuals' behavior towards entrepreneurship. The unit of analysis therefore, is an individual - the nascent entrepreneur and Theory of planned behavior (TPB) will be applied to measure the entrepreneurial intention. The study will be based on data collected in Kenyan university students who are in their last year of their studies in different programmes and levels.
1.8 Ethical issues
This study does not have any other serious ethical issues such as invasion of the respondents' privacy except the need to protect the respondents' identity and not disclose their names in the study. A formal letter of authorization to carry out the research will be sought from the University and all data collected from the respondents will be held in confidence.