African Journal of
Business Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1993-8233
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJBM
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 4094

Full Length Research Paper

Researching entrepreneurship from a cognitive perspective: A focus on necessity entrepreneurs in the Johannesburg area

Boris Urban
Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, 2 St. David's Place, Parktown, Johannesburg, 2193, P. O. Box 98, Wits, 2050, South Africa.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 13 July 2012
  •  Published: 05 December 2012



Based on the prevalence of necessity-motivated entrepreneurial activity in Africa, this study investigates attitudes towards enterprising and cognitive styles of this category of entrepreneurs. Although, most studies on necessity entrepreneurship tend to focus on structural obstacles to explain the systematic failure of entrepreneurs, this paper argued that enterprising determinants might be more agency-orientated. Research about attitudes and cognition requires researchers to pay strict attention to the tenants of human agency. After contextualising the study, more than 400 necessity entrepreneurs operating as informal traders in the Johannesburg area were surveyed. Statistical analyses were performed using correlation and regression analysis to understand the relationship between thecognitive styles and attitudes towards enterprising. The empirical evidence ensuing from this study finds a positive and strong relationship between the knowing, planning and creating cognitive styles and a favourable attitude towards enterprising. Based on the results it seems that policy makers that wish to encourage enterprising among necessity entrepreneurs should not only focus on external support factors but also aim to enhance cognitive styles commensurate with favourable attitudes towards enterprising.


Key words: Necessity entrepreneurs, cognitive styles, attitudes.