Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Entrepreneurship, PhD

Committee Chair

Fiet, James

Committee Member

Bruce, Reginald

Committee Member

Davidsson, Per

Committee Member

Sussman, Lyle

Committee Member

Thatcher, Sherry

Author's Keywords

Theory of volitional behavior; Entity-schema; Entrepreneurial self-concept; Entrepreneurial possible-self; Entrepreneurial self-efficacy; Mindset; Entrepreneurial mindset; Entrepreneurial intentions; Entrepreneurial behavior; Dyslexia; Learning disabilities


Entrepreneurship--Psychological aspects; Businesspeople--Psychology


This dissertation is comprised of three essays that address the question: what specific cognitions lead to the formation of entrepreneurial intentions? Essay 1, "Explaining and Predicting Entrepreneurial Intentions," investigates currently theorized antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions to determine the degree to which they predict entrepreneurial intentions. Findings suggest that proximal cognitions such as feelings, desires, emotions, and attitudes predict intention formation, albeit limited to situations where entrepreneurial behavior is imminent. Additionally, distal cognitions, such as biases, heuristics, scripts and maps, although useful in explaining intentions, are of little predictive value except when predicting the distal intention to become an entrepreneur in those with no entrepreneurial experience. Overall, results indicate that the antecedents used to explain entrepreneurial intentions are of limited predictive value. Essay 2, "The Role of Cognitions in the Formation of an Entrepreneurial Mindset," examines which specific core-level antecedents act to form entrepreneurial mindset and how these cognitions relate to the formation of entrepreneurial intentions. It posits that core-level cognitions related to "the self (entity-schema, possible-self, and self-efficacy) lead to the formation of an entrepreneurial mindset. The essay further posits that entrepreneurial mindset is the principal antecedent to entrepreneurial intentions. This conceptual investigation culminates in the presentation of a general theory of volitional behavior. Essay 3, "An Empirical Evaluation of Entrepreneurial Mindset Using the Theory of Volitional Behavior," tests to what degree entrepreneurial mindset affects the formation of entrepreneurial intentions. Results indicate that individuals who possess an entrepreneurial entity-schema, an entrepreneurial possible-self, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy, on average, tend to form an entrepreneurial mindset. Furthermore, those individuals possessing an entrepreneurial mindset are more likely to form entrepreneurial intentions and ergo, are most likely to undertake entrepreneurial behavior. When taken together, these three essays show that (1) currently theorized antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions, although useful for explaining entrepreneurial intentions, are of limited use in the prediction of intention formation. (2) Core-level cognitions, specifically those relating to "the self, represent a viable means of predicting formation of an entrepreneurial mindset. (3) Entrepreneurial mindset leads to the formation of entrepreneurial intentions, which offer one possible answer to the primary research question, what specific cognitions lead to the formation of entrepreneurial intentions?