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The provenance and effects of entrepreneurial inspiration

Anne Rienke Van Ewijk (College of Business, Abu Dhabi University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Ghulam Nabi (Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Wiebke Weber (RECSM, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 26 August 2021

Issue publication date: 11 October 2021




Building on authoritative studies on inspiration in the field of psychology (e.g. Thrash and Elliot, 2013, 2014), this study aims to clarify how entrepreneurial inspiration – an emotional state of personal attraction toward entrepreneurship – is created and how it affects entrepreneurial intentions. First, receptiveness to inspiration is introduced as a potential entrepreneurial feeling trait that constitutes a universal enabler of entrepreneurial inspiration alongside typically idiosyncratic inspirational triggers. Second, this study proposes to reinforce the theoretical base of the relation between entrepreneurial inspiration and entrepreneurial intentions by applying the affect infusion model (AIM) and empirically testing its explanatory power.


Hypotheses are tested through independent and dependent sample t-tests and hierarchical regression analyses with an interaction effect. Data originate from a pre-post course survey among 342 entrepreneurship students from various countries and institutions.


The results confirm a positive relation between receptiveness to inspiration and entrepreneurial inspiration. Receptiveness to inspiration precedes and increases with entrepreneurial experience, suggesting that it can be both inborn and cultivated. In line with the AIM, entrepreneurial inspiration stimulates only the entrepreneurial aspirations of participants without entrepreneurial experience. Experienced individuals, on the other hand, derived more entrepreneurial inspiration from their courses, but this was not translated to higher entrepreneurial intentions. Instead, they could benefit from this inspiration in other ways proposed in the literature, such as enhanced opportunity recognition.


This study provides much needed, theory-informed, insight into the formation of entrepreneurial inspiration. Furthermore, it is the first research to propose and test a specific theoretical underpinning of the relation between entrepreneurial inspiration and entrepreneurial intentions, which also accounts for the moderating role of entrepreneurial experience. Finally, the rare multi-country, multi-institution nature of the sample reinforces the external validity of the findings.



The authors are very grateful for the constructive peer reviews provided by Prof. Todd Thrash, Prof. Alain Fayolle and Prof. Francisco Liñan. Furthermore, the authors thank all entrepreneurship instructors who invited their students for participation in the survey.

Funding: The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs of Abu Dhabi University provided support for data collection and proofreading through the Faculty Research Incentive program 2015-2016 [grant number 19300093]. The sponsor did not play a role in the study after granting the fund.


Van Ewijk, A.R., Nabi, G. and Weber, W. (2021), "The provenance and effects of entrepreneurial inspiration", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 1871-1890.



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