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Do entrepreneurial characteristics and education influence start-up potentials among undergraduates? Evidence from a developing country


Objective: Entrepreneurship education offers plausible policy options to curtail the consistent rise in youth unemployment in Nigeria. Understanding students’ entrepreneurial characteristics will assist university administrators, policymakers, scholars and practitioners to deliver contents that stimulate their entrepreneurial propensity. This study examines students’ entrepreneurial characteristics and how it, together with entrepreneurship education, shapes start-up potential among them in Nigeria.

Research Design & Methods: The study adapts the personal entrepreneurial characteristics (PECs) scale developed by Management Systems International. Data were collected from three thousand two hundred and seventy-seven (N=3 277) students from six Nigerian universities. Descriptive and binary logistic regressions were used to estimate important PECs that influenced entrepreneurial interest among the students.

Findings: The results show that majority of the students (92%) are interested in starting a business, while 36% of them are already running one form of enterprise. The level of entrepreneurship interest is also high. Generally, the mean/average score for the entire personal entrepreneurial characteristics is high, and specific means were computed for each element of PECs including opportunity seeking, risk-taking, information seeking, systematic planning and monitoring, persuasion and networking, commitment, persistence, demand for efficiency and quality, goal-setting and self-confidence. Binary logistic regression was adopted to examine the influence of PECs on the start-up potentials among the students using the mean scores computed from the PECs as the independent variables. The results show that students with high goal-setting characteristics and opportunity recognition characteristics are highly predisposed to entrepreneurship. The results further showed that students whose parents run businesses and attended entrepreneurship courses are significantly and highly likely to venture into business. Although persuasion and networking, risk-taking and persistence predispose the students to entrepreneurship, the variables were not significant.

Implications & Recommendations: Entrepreneurship education in the country should therefore be re-designed such that students are adequately profiled to determine the kind of EE best suited for them. For those already practising entrepreneurship, the university administration could establish innovation hubs or labs, as well as business incubators, and organise annual innovation competition to help improve entrepreneurship education outcomes.

Contribution & Value Added: The paper adopts personal entrepreneurial characteristics (PECs) as novel lenses to understand entrepreneurial inclinations among undergraduates in a developing country. Paying particular attention to PEC is important for policymakers and university administrators to improve the policy outcomes of entrepreneurship education policy.


Entrepreneurial characteristics, education, undergraduates, job creation, youth


Author Biography

Caleb M. Adelowo

PhD in Technology Management (2017) Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; MSc Technology Management (2014), Obafemi Awolowo University; Master’s degree in Intellectual Property (2010), Africa University, Zimbabwe, BSc Accounting (2008) Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. His research interests include Entrepreneurship and innovation management, intellectual property management, technology transfer and commercialisation, organisational behaviour.

Oluwatosin E. Ilevbare

PhD in Psychology (2018), Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; MSc Psychology, (2013), Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; BSc Psychology, (2007), Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Her research interests include health behaviour, entrepreneurial studies and adoption of innovation.

Jhalukpreya Surujlal

PhD in Sport Management (2003), University of Johannesburg, South Africa; Master’s in Public Administration (MPA), University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; BCom, University of South Africa (UNISA). His research interests are human resource management, sport management, marketing and entrepreneurship.


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