Entrepreneurial Attributes

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Entrepreneurial attributes Abstract: This paper explores entrepreneurial attributes among the students of The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, a public sector Pakistani university. Multistage sampling was employed to maximize the representation. Five hundred and twenty one master’s level students from thirty departments returned completed questionnaires. Three factors emerged: self efficacy, efficiency and commitment, and entrepreneurial inclinations. The majority of the students exhibited positive entrepreneurial attributes. However, there was no significant difference between negative and positive entrepreneurial attributes. There was no significant impact of demographic variables such as gender, parental income and profession on entrepreneurial attributes. Impact on practice and policy is discussed. 1. Introduction Entrepreneurship development has emerged as a university function. Universities produce the future pool of entrepreneurs. Consequently, the entrepreneurial attributes of university students have become a matter of great concern. Entrepreneurial attributes include: looking for opportunities, taking the initiative, making decisions, seeing things through, identifying problems and finding creative solutions (Swain, 2008). The detection of certain distinctive entrepreneurial personality traits has enabled researchers to discriminate future entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs. Factors enhancing entrepreneurial attitudes have been investigated. Achievement motivation and self-image have emerged as the major contributory factors (Pillis & Reardon, 2007). Parental professions, the academic and professional qualifications of parents, their attitudes towards entrepreneurship and university environment have also been focused upon (Gurol & Atson, 2006; Zampetakis & Moustakis, 2006). Schroeder and Rodermund (2006) found that family background, parenting style and educational background could predict developmental patterns of enterprising interest among future entrepreneurs. These demographic factors also appeared to have a significant impact on building entrepreneurial types of personality. A high need for achievement, high entrepreneurial intention, instrumental readiness, high entrepreneurial acceptability, creative behavior, initiative taking, taking responsibilities, involvement in various types of risks, self-confidence, an internal locus of control, need for independence and autonomy, accomplishment of tasks with Entrepreneurial attributes among postgraduate students of a Pakistani university 67 energy and commitment, team building, working in teams and independently, working under pressure, leading others, analytical competencies and persistency in following aims have all emerged as the major attributes of the entrepreneurial personality (Martinez, Mora & Vila, 2007; Ramayah & Harun, 2005; Rodermund, 2004). Research showed that educational programs significantly affected entrepreneurial attitudes of university students. A considerable improvement in entrepreneurial attitudes was reported in university students as a result of participation in entrepreneurial teaching programs (Schroder & Rodermund, 2006; Soutaris, Zerbinati & Al-Laham, 2007; ZHAO, Seibert & Hills, 2005). One can conclude that educational programs can stimulate the hidden entrepreneurial potential of students (Wilson, Brown, Anderson & Galloway, 2003). Consequently enterprise and innovation are increasingly being acknowledged by governments as a driving force behind innovative change and job creation. This influencing higher education and governments are encouraging the introduction of enterprise into the curriculum. Students are calling for opportunities to develop and test their entrepreneurial skills. Industry is looking for an element of entrepreneurial creativity in its top class graduate recruits (Gibb, 2008). 2. Entrepreneurship in Pakistan Pakistan is a small country in a large competitive global market. It is becoming increasingly important to develop a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial community (Institute of Business Management, 2007). Many international surveys find that Pakistan has strong potential to be an entrepreneurial nation, but there are problems that prevent it from being so. The first is entrepreneurs’ efforts to become wealthy overnight, without moving up the ladder gradually. This overconfidence and lack of understanding for proper business techniques has caused the downfall of many entrepreneurial ventures. The second issue preventing entrepreneurial growth in Pakistan is that many women are not given the opportunity to start a venture and nurture into a successful business. Women are looked upon as “food-makers” rather than “food-earners”. However, research does show that those women who have been given the chance and proper resources have worked to become strong entrepreneurs. As an increasing number of women are fighting for their right to enter into the business world, entrepreneurship amongst women is giving rise to some excellent business ventures (Pakistan Entrepreneurship, 2008). In Pakistan, women entrepreneurs do not enjoy the same opportunities as men, owing to a number of deeprooted discriminatory socio-cultural values and traditions. These restrictions can be observed within the support mechanisms that exist to assist such fledgling businesswomen. They suffer from a lack of access to capital, land, business premises, information technology, training and agency assistance. The inherent attitudes of an ancient societythat men are superior to women and that women are best suited to be homemakers—create formidable challenges. Women also receive little encouragement from male family members, resulting in limited geographical mobility and a lack of social capital (Roomi & Parrot, 2008). However, the majority of those women who are enabled to become entrepreneurs (71%) have successfully achieved their objectives and are determined to continue their current business (Bhutta, 2000). Like the men, women entrepreneurs also perceive education and training as the most important influences for their entry into the entrepreneurial world (Riaz, 2002). The World Bank’s World Governance Indicator Report finds that Pakistan’s political instability and violence in the last and present decade has made people pause before starting as an entrepreneur in the country (World Bank, 2008). Moreover, innovation and risk taking is severely inhibited by the interfering role of government in the marketplace. From the early days of planning, when protection and subsidy policies determined winners in the Entrepreneurial attributes among postgraduate students of a Pakistani university 68 market place, entrepreneurship has been diverted to seeking government favors. Government economic policy seeks to promote growth through a basically “mercantilist” approach, where domestic commerce is heavily regulated (Haque, 2007). The gap between the rich and the poor has widened during and after the period of President Pervez Mussraf’s regime. The latest estimate of the inflation-adjusted poverty line is 944.47 Rupees per adult equivalent per month. The headcount percentage of population below the poverty line stands at 22.32 percent (Khan, 2008a). At the moment, the country is passing through a serious socioeconomic crisis. According to economic surveys in 2007-2008 Pakistan’s economy grew by 5.8 percent, against the original target of 7.2 percent. The survey conceded that there were failures in major areas, particularly GDP growth rate, agriculture, overall manufacturing, large scale manufacturing, inflation, fiscal policy, exports, imports, current account deficit and trade balance. Pakistan missed major economic targets set for the outgoing financial year. Per capita income for the financial year 2007-2008 (US $1,085) is still 27 times lower than the UK, whereas food inflation was estimated at 15% (Haq, 2008). A 4.7% deficit in GDP (459 billion rupees) has been shown in the recently released budget 2008-2009 estimates (Qamar, 2008). Only half of one percent of the GDP is being spent on universities. Public spending per student (at present about US $670) remains well below the average found in fast-growing developing countries such as in OECD member states (Government of Pakistan, 2006a; Higher Education Commission, Pakistan, 2008a). Nonetheless, in the last few years the entrepreneurial class in Pakistan has been on the rise. The interesting thing is that the trend of rising entrepreneurship continues in spite of growing political challenges and unstable business environments. 3. Entrepreneurship at university Policy making agencies have shown some serious concern about entrepreneurial promotion at Pakistani universities. The Higher Education Commission emphasized that universities not only develop the mastery of subject matter, but also the ability to think critically, innovate, communicate, work effectively in teams, and develop entrepreneurship opportunities and flexibility among their graduates. Universities are expected to play a key role in the national development process, by creating, using, and diffusing new knowledge through the establishment of technology parks and business incubators, and making possible access to venture capital and other such schemes (Rahman, 2008). Two entrepreneurship centers have been established at Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and Lahore University of Management Sciences. These centers aim to enhance the decision-making, entrepreneurial initiation and business development ability of future entrepreneurs. A target is to produce “job creators” not “job seekers” in society. To strengthen the country by promoting economic growth in the region and increasing the economic livelihood of the community and people are significant aims at these units (Institute of Business Management, 2007). At present, none of the public sector universities in the country offers an independent course on entrepreneurship. However, the University of the Punjab Lahore, the University of Sindh Hyderabad, the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and Lahore University of Management Sciences all offer either a compulsory or an elective entrepreneurship course unit to their Master’s level business students (Higher Education Commission, 2008b). At the moment, there is a very little research being done and published in the field of entrepreneurship in Pakistan (Lahore University of Management Sciences, 2007). Only two Ph.D. studies on entrepreneurship have so far been reported by the Higher Education Commission, to the credit of Bahauddin Entrepreneurial attributes among postgraduate students of a Pakistani university 69 Zakariya University Multan (Higher Education Commission, 2008c). However, there is high demand to promote a culture of entrepreneurship among the students and staff in Pakistani universities in seeking resources and opportunities (Mian, 2006). The Islamia University of Bahawalpur is a middle size general university in the country, with 44 teaching departments and 12,000 students enrolled in various types of Bachelor’s and Master’s level programs. Moreover, 275 Ph.D. and 750 M.Phil. students are working on their research projects (Khan, 2008b). Here, the Faculty of Business and Commerce offers either compulsory or elective entrepreneurship course units to its Master’s level students (The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, 2008). The university has developed to become an enterprise university for developing partnership with the indigenous labor market and local community to improve economic growth and regeneration of social wealth. It has set out to offer innovative programs of an applied nature that will satisfy the needs of students and employers in relation to the world of work. The university has predicted that by the year 2015, it will play a leading role and produce a sufficient number of professionals and social scientists to improve quality of life across the board. Its mission is to produce a variety of scientists and researchers, responsive to national needs and priorities, but focusing more on issues relating to the socio-economic development of Southern Punjab (http://www.iub.edu.pk/Vision.jsp.). The potency of the entrepreneurial class is usually evident in the entrepreneurial attitudes of university students. However, no considerable research work on the entrepreneurial attitudes of the university students has so far been published from Pakistan. This article will investigate entrepreneurial attributes among the Master’s students of The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan. 4. Methodology 4.1 Sampling In 2007, there were 111 universities and degree-awarding institutions functioning in the country under both the public and private sector (Higher Education Commission, 2008d). The Task Force Report (2002) detailed that 85 percent of students in universities were enrolled in public sector institutions. Thus the public sector universities were mainly responsible for controlling the quality of higher education. Therefore, it was decided to use this important group. Among the various types of public sector universities, the general universities (not specialising in particular subjects) represented the largest group of population, and these were focused upon. From these, one university with ambitions to develop entrepreneurship was selected, partly for reasons of convenience. Then multistage sampling was employed to maximize representation, selecting the science, arts and business departments. Random sampling was undertaken within the strata of male and female students from those departments. The consequent sample consisted of 600 students. 4.2 Questionnaire After a wide literature review, a number of sample questionnaires regarding entrepreneurial attitudes of university students were downloaded or received from colleagues (mainly from the US, Germany, Spain, China and Malaysia). From consideration of these possibilities, a 45-item questionnaire was developed, featuring an 8-point Likert scale for responses (see Appendix). The questionnaire was mainly adapted from the Ramayah and Harren (2005) 7-point agree-disagree Likert-type scale for assessing entrepreneurial intention among the students of University Sains Malaysia. This scale was largely concerned with need for achievement, locus of control, self efficacy, instrumental readiness, subjective norms and entrepreneurial intentions. The reported reliability value for Entrepreneurial attributes among postgraduate students of a Pakistani university 70 the scale was 0.85. Keeping in mind the local requirements, the language and content of the items were adapted. Cross validation of items was made by: (1) adding conditional items (items number 12, 20 and 30); (2) adding negative items (e.g., items number 6, 8 and 11); and (3) putting the items in random order. Responding to the suggestion of Boone (1997), another modification was the change to an 8-point Likert scale. The scale points one and eight were labeled respectively with strongly disagree and strongly agree options while the intermediate points were left uncharacterized. According to Boone (1997), the tendency to pick the neutral response in such inventories is more common in Asian cultures. The neutral option therefore needed to be eliminated. The questionnaire was then translated into Urdu. A panel of two experts was requested to consider the content validity and face validity of the instruments in both the languages. Items obtaining approval from 80% or more of the experts were retained. Inappropriate items were revised in the light of the critical comments of the experts. The final questionnaire consequently consisted of 45 items. A Cronbach alpha of 0.80 indicated high reliability. The questionnaire was then piloted on a sample of 20 students. This led to some further adaptations. The Urdu and the English versions of the questionnaire were subsequently used together for data collection. 4.3 Response rate and analysis The questionnaire was distributed among twenty students from each of the departments contacted, with proportionate numbers of students who were male and female. Participation was voluntary. The return rate for the questionnaire varied from department to department. Six hundred students of the thirty departments received the questionnaires. A total of 521 students responded within the scheduled period of two months. The response rate was 87%. Fifty-one percent of the participants were females, a higher proportion than might be expected from the presence of females in the universities. The data analyzed in two steps. In the first step a factor analysis was conducted on questionnaire responses. In the second step descriptive statistical techniques were applied to the data. On occasion where discrepancies seemed large, inferential statistical analysis was applied. 5. Results 5.1 Factor analysis A principal components analysis followed by Varimax rotation was conducted for the data set. Kaiser MayerOlkin measure of sampling adequacy, Bartlett test of sphericity, and anti-image correlation were calculated. A high value of Kaiser Mayer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy (0.80), highly significant Bartlett test of sphericity (chi-square: 900.551; Significance: p<0.000) and less than 0.1 value of the anti-image correlation indicate that the data exhibited quite normal behaviour and were interpretable. Hence it was safe to apply Factor analysis to the data. A three-factor solution was accepted for the data set. This accounted for 46.62% of the common variance. The first group of four items (30, 31, 32 and 33), the second group of four items (13, 15, 17 and 21), and the third group of four items (26, 28, 29 and 34) loaded respectively on self efficacy, efficiency and commitment and entrepreneurial inclinations (see Table 1). Convergent validity and discriminant validity of the three dimensions were calculated. The measuring instrument had more than 80% content validity. Convergent validity was 89.39%, whereas all the subscales (self efficacy, efficiency and commitment, and entrepreneurial inclinations) had 100% convergent validity. The discriminant validity of the questionnaire was calculated as 10.61%. The adequately high value convergent validity and relatively low discriminant validity of the research tool gave confidence that it was measuring the Entrepreneurial attributes among postgraduate students of a Pakistani university 71 desired construct. The reliability of the measuring instrument was 0.81, and the reliability of all the subscales of the research tool was no less than 0.72. Table 1 Factor matrix of entrepreneurial attributes among students Factor No. 1 Attributes Q. No. Items Factor loadings Variance explained (%) Self efficacy 30 31 32 33 2 Efficiency & commitment 15 17 21 3 Entrepreneurial inclination 28 29 34 Total variance explained There is a direct connection between how hard I study and the grades I get. I set goals for myself in order to direct my activities. Working hard is something I like doing. When confronted with a problem I can usually find several solutions. 13 When I make plans, I am almost certain that I can make them work. I would prefer to be self-employed and independent, rather than work for others. I am more efficient because I do more work in less time. It is important to teach students about entrepreneurship and starting a business. 26 I feel that the risks and insecurities associated with being in business are acceptable. I like to take calculated risks with new ideas. A comprehensive unit on how to run a business would be a useful course for me. I have seriously considered starting my own business sometimes after graduate. 46.620 0.706 17.551 0.688 0.699 0.561 0.675 14.781 0.705 0.668 0.436 0.631 14.288 0.595 0.572 0.631