What passions and values drive entrepreneurial intent? Analysing aspiring entrepreneurs’ core identity

Author: Sara Bonesso
Year: 2015
Paper Type: Research Paper
Conference Track: Business Creation

What passions and values drive entrepreneurial intent? Analysing aspiring entrepreneurs’ core identity

Objectives: Passions, values and dreams constitute the main components of the personal core identity and provide individuals coherence toward goal-directed cognitions and behaviors during the pursuit of their professional objectives. Despite the growing interest on this issue, there has been little theorizing concerning which specific aspects of identity (passions, values, and dreams) are more relevant for an entrepreneurial career. This research wants to provide a classification of these main components of identity and aims to define the passions, values and dreams that distinguish young individuals who manifest an entrepreneurial intent.

Prior Work: Recent contributions show that passion and other components of the self-identity, such as values and dreams, energize motivation and inspire individuals to persist through the challenges associated with the entrepreneurial endeavors and impact on entrepreneurial effectiveness and behavior. The extant research focuses on adult entrepreneurs and considers only passions related to work or entrepreneurialspecific activities, such as founding, inventing and developing, neglecting the passions and values that may influence a young individual to express the intent to undertake an entrepreneurial career.

Approach: We carried out a study on two groups of Italian students who were completing their academic experience and participated in two different seminars: one for students who expressed the intent to become entrepreneurs and another for students that only wanted to enter the labour market. Specific exercises concerning the identification of their most important values, passions and dreams were delivered to both groups. Thematic analysis was conducted to create a meaningful classification of the three identity components. Then, we proposed an empirical application in order to understand which distinctive identity elements characterize the students who expressed an entrepreneurial intention.

Results: The paper provides a classification of values divided into different categories related to Emotional connection, Performance, Relationships, Personal growth, Psycho-physical wellness, Inner balance, and a categorization of the different passions and dreams that emerged. Moreover, results concern the identification of specific components of self-identity that distinguish those who express an entrepreneurial intent.

Implications: Focusing on deep values, passions and dreams that shape students’ identity is an important step in the implementation of educational programs which help students to reflect on their desired future and make it explicit, in order to map their needs and professional objectives.

Value: This paper adds to the recent literature on entrepreneurial passion by proposing an original conceptual classification of passions, values and dreams that characterize individuals with an entrepreneurial intent.

Keywords: entrepreneurial intent; identity; ideal-self; passions; values; dreams.