Entrepreneurship education, opportunity cost, and entrepreneurial intentions
: insights from a field experiment

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Purpose: The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) has been widely used in the entrepreneurship field to identify the effect of entrepreneurship education (EE) on entrepreneurial intentions (EI). However, it is poorly understood how individuals make decisions about entrepreneurship when they face attractive career alternatives. Thus, it is crucial to investigate further how TPB elements variate for business venturing when considering other career alternatives.
This research investigates the effect of EE on the EI of engineering students by applying the modified model of TPB (Ajzen, 1991; Schlaegel and Koenig, 2014). It incorporates entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE) as an additional antecedent of EI. This addition helps to differentiate its influence versus perceived behavioural control (PBC), which clarifies how they distinctively transmit the effect of EE. The social norms (SN) also are decomposed to descriptive and behavioural (injunctive) norms as individual antecedents of EI. Deconstructing SN is to evaluate business venturing as a career by identifying its social prevalence (descriptive norms) and its social approval (behavioural norms) (Cialdini et al., 1990).
The research also highlights the role of the opportunity cost (OC) of business venturing as a career within TPB. The study investigates the OC components that matter most to final year students, how their anticipation of OC interacts with their attitudes (ATB) towards business venturing, and how it impacts their EI.
Design/methodology: The researcher applies a randomized controlled field experiment on a sample of 247 final year engineering students at Kuwait University. An EE treatment comprising of the value proposition canvas, effectuation concepts, and the business model canvas were provided to the treatment group. Alternatively, the control group had a career planning session (active control group).
Findings: The study results show that students’ ATB and their PBC are the primary mediators and transmitters of EE on students’ EI. However, EE did not change students’ normative information about business venturing, indicating that it is an uncommon behaviour (descriptive norm) with weak social support (behavioural norms).
The research findings also reveal that the OC of starting a business is not confined to the economic (pecuniary) cost. Students had concerns about a non-pecuniary cost represented by work enjoyment aspect. It mediates the influence of students’ ATB on their EI. These results reconceptualize OC and show that its consideration is essential to extend the TPB predictability of EI since it considers the availability of alternative career options.
Date of Award1 Sept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAnna Rebmann (Supervisor), Ute Stephan (Supervisor) & Tomasz Mickiewicz (Supervisor)

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