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Can less be more? Mentoring functions, learning goal orientation, and novice entrepreneurs’ self-efficacy

Etienne St-Jean (Research Institute on SMEs, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Canada)
Miruna Radu-Lefebvre (Audencia Business School, Nantes, France)
Cynthia Mathieu (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Canada)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 2 November 2017

Issue publication date: 8 January 2018

Abstract

Purpose

One of the main goals of entrepreneurial mentoring programs is to strengthen the mentees’ self-efficacy. However, the conditions in which entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE) is developed through mentoring are not yet fully explored. The purpose of this paper is to test the combined effects of mentee’s learning goal orientation (LGO) and perceived similarity with the mentor and demonstrates the role of these two variables in mentoring relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

The current study is based on a sample of 360 novice Canadian entrepreneurs who completed an online questionnaire. The authors used a cross-sectional analysis as research design.

Findings

Findings indicate that the development of ESE is optimal when mentees present low levels of LGO and perceive high similarities between their mentor and themselves. Mentees with high LGO decreased their level of ESE with more in-depth mentoring received.

Research limitations/implications

This study investigated a formal mentoring program with volunteer (unpaid) mentors. Generalization to informal mentoring relationships needs to be tested.

Practical implications

The study shows that, in order to effectively develop self-efficacy in a mentoring situation, LGO should be taken into account. Mentors can be trained to modify mentees’ LGO to increase their impact on this mindset and mentees’ ESE.

Originality/value

This is the first empirical study that demonstrates the effects of mentoring on ESE and reveals a triple moderating effect of LGO and perceived similarity in mentoring relationships.

Keywords

Citation

St-Jean, E., Radu-Lefebvre, M. and Mathieu, C. (2018), "Can less be more? Mentoring functions, learning goal orientation, and novice entrepreneurs’ self-efficacy", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 2-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-09-2016-0299

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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