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The Push and Pull of Entrepreneurial Careers: Reflections on Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy Open Access


Other title
Entrepreneurial self-efficacy
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Dempsey, Dianna M
Supervisor and department
Luchak, Andrew (Business - Strategic Management and Organization)
Examining committee member and department
Inness, Michelle (Business - Strategic Management and Organization)
Jennings, Jennifer (Business - Strategic Management and Organization)
Hughes, Karen (Business - Strategic Management and Organization and Sociology)
Steier, Lloyd (Business - Strategic Management and Organization)
Faculty of Business
Strategic Management and Organization
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Defined as one’s confidence in their ability to successfully perform entrepreneurial roles and tasks, the construct of entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE) is widely viewed as a key cognitive mechanism for explaining entrepreneurial activity. Despite its growing prominence, however, important gaps in our understanding of ESE exist. The purpose of the first study was to investigate whether the four major factors known to contribute to self-efficacy can help account for observed gender differences in ESE. I find that the significantly lower ESE of women studied can be attributed to their lower level of prior entrepreneurial experience (enactive mastery), their lower level of positive and negative affect towards entrepreneurship (physiological arousal), and their higher likelihood of receiving failure feedback from an opportunity evaluation task (verbal persuasion). My second study examines the mechanisms through which high performance work systems (HPWS) may aid in the formation of ESE in two stages. I first make the link between employee perceptions of their HPWS and their engagement in creative and adaptable behaviours. I find that employees’ perception of their HPWS encourages perceptions of creative but not adaptable contributions. Next, I trace a second order effect of the HPWS on the development of ESE in employees. I find that HPWS influence the development of ESE indirectly through the experience afforded by creative contributions. Finally, my third study builds off conceptualizations of ‘approach’ vs. ‘avoidance’, to explore how the presence of ESE among employed individuals translates into an intentionality to pursue an entrepreneurial career. I combine entrepreneurial intentions (EI) with staying intentions (SI), and through the use of cluster analysis create four categories of entrepreneurial intentionality: incubating entrepreneur, imminent entrepreneur, employed stayer, and employed leaver. My analysis shows that combining EI and SI into profiles offers important insights into the effects of gender and ESE on career intentionality to become an entrepreneur that are missed when these outcomes are examined separately. My findings contribute to a more nuanced view of ESE including how it develops and how it may impact decisions to undertake entrepreneurial activities in both intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial settings over the course of an individual’s career.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Dempsey, D.M., & Jennings, J.E. (2014). Gender and entrepreneurial self-efficacy: A Learning Perspective. International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship.

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