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Entrepreneurship? Let us do it later: procrastination in the intention–behavior gap of student entrepreneurship

Aki Harima (University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)
Jessica Gießelmann (University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)
Vibeka Göttsch (University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)
Lina Schlichting (University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 6 May 2021

Issue publication date: 23 July 2021




This study aims to explore the intention–behavior gap of student entrepreneurs who develop entrepreneurial intention in a venture creation course and decide to continue working on the business idea after completing the course. While many students decide to work on business concepts, they often struggle with taking further steps when the course ends. This suggests that the development of entrepreneurial intention in the course does not directly lead to entrepreneurial actions after the course. Hence, this paper examines the sources for the intention–action gap and behavioral responses of student entrepreneurs.


This study applied a systematic inductive qualitative research method to examine how student entrepreneurs encounter challenges after the entrepreneurship program and how they respond to them. The authors selected a venture development course at a German public university as their research context.


The findings revealed that students encountered substantial challenges after the program, which invoked their procrastinating behaviors. Based on the findings, this study developed a process model of the intention–behavior gap in student entrepreneurship. The process model provides a roadmap to follow the main findings, which consist of three main parts: (1) the antecedents of the intention–behavior gap; (2) behavioral responses of student entrepreneurs and (3) the outcomes of procrastination.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the emerging student entrepreneurship literature by identifying obstacles for students who intend to continue developing a venture after attending venture creation courses, as well as elaborating on possible student responses to these barriers and their subsequent impact on their nascent ventures. Furthermore, the findings contribute to developing the understanding of the intention–behavior gap in entrepreneurship education at higher education institutions by highlighting challenges for students that emerge in the transition phase from course participants to autonomous entrepreneurial actors.


Scholars have generally emphasized the vital role of entrepreneurship education in developing the entrepreneurial intentions of students as prospective entrepreneurs. However, researchers have only rarely examined how these intentions are translated into actions. Furthermore, the existing research on students' intention–behavior gap is limited to quantitative studies that demonstrate the existence of the gap empirically or apply theoretically derived moderators to their analysis. Consequently, the literature calls for more qualitative, explorative research approaches to understand what happens to students' entrepreneurial intentions once their entrepreneurship program is over.



This paper forms part of a special section “Students creating ventures in higher education – nascent entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship students”, guest edited by Lise Aaboen, Roger Sørheim, Dag Håkon Haneberg and Torgeir Aadland.

This study was developed based on the final report submitted by Jessica Gießelmann, Vibeka Göttsch and Lina Schlichting to the research project on current issues in entrepreneurship research (offered by the Chair in Small Business & Entrepreneurship (LEMEX), Lecturer: Dr. Aki Harima) at the University of Bremen. The authors would like to thank student entrepreneurs, lecturers and coaches of the venture creation course who shared their invaluable experiences with this study. The authors are grateful to the special issue editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and suggestions, which helped the authors to improve this article.


Harima, A., Gießelmann, J., Göttsch, V. and Schlichting, L. (2021), "Entrepreneurship? Let us do it later: procrastination in the intention–behavior gap of student entrepreneurship", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 1189-1213.



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