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Prior exposure to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial beliefs

Brian T. McCann (Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




To contribute to the knowledge of factors that shape entrepreneurial beliefs, the purpose of this paper is to theorize and empirically test how individuals’ general attitudes toward entrepreneurship based on exposure to others’ prior entrepreneurial activities are related to beliefs surrounding current entrepreneurial opportunities. Positive attitudes based on prior exposure can lead to bias in the beliefs about current opportunities being evaluated, suggesting that positive affect can be a negative influence in the entrepreneurial process.


The sample is the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics I, a nationally representative, longitudinal data set of US adults in the process of starting businesses. Regression analyses demonstrate how general attitudes are associated with beliefs about level of future sales, probability of venture survival, and levels of financial, competitive, and operational uncertainty.


Nascent entrepreneurs with more positive general attitudes toward entrepreneurship form more optimistic estimates of the financial performance and survival likelihood of their future ventures. They also estimate lower levels of environmental uncertainty.


This research extends understanding of the impact of prior exposure to entrepreneurship in the entrepreneurial process. It also contributes to increasing understanding of the determinants of entrepreneurial beliefs and extends prior work that has considered cognitive determinants (knowledge and motivation) to consider emotional determinants (affect-infused attitudes), consistent with the heightened recent interest in the role of emotion in entrepreneurship. This research provides a different perspective on the role of affect in the entrepreneurial process. While prior work addressing affect in entrepreneurship has explored the positive aspects of affect, the present study suggests that affect may not have a uniformly positive influence.



McCann, B.T. (2017), "Prior exposure to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial beliefs", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 591-612.



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