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The motivation to become an entrepreneur

Gerry Segal (Florida Gulf Coast University, College of Business, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)
Dan Borgia (Florida Gulf Coast University, College of Business, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)
Jerry Schoenfeld (Florida Gulf Coast University, College of Business, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 1 February 2005



Since the 1950s, organizational psychology research investigating work‐related motivation has progressed from static content models to dynamic process models. Entrepreneurship research has evolved along a similar trajectory, adapting organizational psychology findings to better understand the motivation to become an entrepreneur. This paper reviews motivation research from both fields, explores some of the commonalities among current theories, and presents a new model of entrepreneurial motivation.


In an exploratory study, the ability of tolerance for risk, perceived feasibility, and perceived net desirability to predict intentions for self‐employment is examined in a sample of 114 undergraduate business students at Florida Gulf Coast University.


Results indicated that tolerance for risk, perceived feasibility and net desirability significantly predicted self‐employment intentions, with an adjusted R2 of 0.528.

Research limitations/implications

Because the sample consisted entirely of undergraduate business students, findings may not be generalizable to non‐student populations. This research did not examine the role of negative motivations, or “push” factors. The cross‐sectional rather than longitudinal design of the study raises the usual caveats regarding lack of causal evidence. Finally, a limitation of any survey research is the inability to ask follow‐up questions and explore in more depth the reasoning behind any finding. Future research including qualitative interviews and/or focus group sessions could therefore provide rich explanatory information that could add value to the survey data.

Practical implications

As a result of this research, educators, government officials, and others interested in stimulating entrepreneurial motivation should consider how their words and actions affect potential entrepreneurs’ perceptions of entrepreneurial feasibility and net desirability.


Although the model is original and unique, it is based on established theories and models. It provides a well‐supported explanation of the motivation to become an entrepreneur that will be useful to potential entrepreneurs and those who encourage and guide them.



Segal, G., Borgia, D. and Schoenfeld, J. (2005), "The motivation to become an entrepreneur", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 42-57.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited