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Who wants to be an entrepreneur in the Balkans? From perceptions and beliefs to intentions

Effrosyni Vasileiou (City College, European Campus, University of York, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Anastasios Karamanos (American Farm School, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Nikolaos Georgantzis (School of Wine and Spirits Business, Burgundy School of Business, Dijon, France) (Economics Department and LEE, Universitat Jaume I, Castellon, Spain)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 27 March 2023

Issue publication date: 31 March 2023




This paper uses the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to explain entrepreneurial intentions (EIs) among students from different South-East (SE) European countries, considering various personal and situational variables. The authors examine how the regional cultural context affects individual perceptions and beliefs about entrepreneurship, which in turn form the basis of the cognitive antecedents of the TPB model.


Using a sample of 850 respondents, the authors estimate a two-level model, addressing the issue of endogeneity in the relationship between attitudes and beliefs and the respondents' EI. Specifically, the authors focus on heterogeneity across nations in attitudes toward entrepreneurial behavior (ATEB), subjective norms (SN) and perceived behavioral control (PBC).


The results show that the perceived behavioral control and the attitude toward entrepreneurial behavior are the main determinants of Balkan students' EI. The authors find that the role of SE European culture in entrepreneurship intentions does not follow the Western pattern. In this particular regional environment dominated by collectivist culture, students' EIs are influenced more by cooperation, caring for others and other non-monetary benefits.

Research limitations/implications

Like any study, this study has limitations. First, all the variables were measured using a single questionnaire. Although common method bias was shown not to be an issue, in future research different variables should be measured with different methods. For instance, using the items by Liñán and Chen (2009) which were developed in the United States of America, to measure SE European students' entrepreneurial perceived behavioral control might ignore some requisite resources or abilities typical for SE European students, such as personal relational network (similar to the notion of guanxi in China (see, e.g. Hwang et al., 2009). Second, Busenitz et al. (2000) indicate that cross-national differences in entrepreneurship are best explained by a broader set of institutions, i.e. educational and governmental support agencies. In general, the empirical evidence on the relationship between national culture and entrepreneurial behavior is mixed and this is generally agreed that an important issue that needs to be considered is the interactions between cultural values, social institutions, industry characteristics and outcomes such as entrepreneurship (Hayton et al., 2002). In the future, similar studies could include respondents with a larger dispersion of prior education, age, and human, social and financial capital.

Practical implications

The existence of support received in the family environment and the lack of individualistic and competitive aspirations create a more favorable environment for a young person to become entrepreneur. This must be taken seriously into account by educators and policy makers aiming at encouraging entrepreneurship, because in the societies studied here the motivation of prospective entrepreneurs depends on totally different drivers than those usually encountered in the Western world. Furthermore, from a gender perspective, the authors' study suggests that in societies with stronger family ties and more gender discrimination, an individual's closer social environment may not create the appropriate context for women to decide to become entrepreneurs.

Social implications

A strong hierarchical culture in a society goes against the intention of becoming an entrepreneur. That is, when people accept that social mobility is low and, thus, reversing people's relative positions in the society is unlikely, people are less prone to becoming entrepreneurs. In Western societies, where collectivism is low, the contrary holds. In the societies considered here, where family and social links are strong, entrepreneurship is considered to be a rather safer option, which is encouraged by non-individualistic values and is negatively associated with aggressive competitiveness. In those societies, formal institutions such as the government and the educational sector could play an important role to support prospective female entrepreneurs (Borges et al., 2021).


The motivation of prospective entrepreneurs in SE European countries depends on totally different drivers than those usually encountered in the Western world.



N Georgantzis received fundings from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Grant ANR-18-CE26-0018), Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (Grant RTI2018-096927-B-100), Generalitat Valenciana (AICO/2021/005) and Universitat Jaume I (Grant UJI-B2021-23).


Vasileiou, E., Karamanos, A. and Georgantzis, N. (2023), "Who wants to be an entrepreneur in the Balkans? From perceptions and beliefs to intentions", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 141-161.



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