African Journal of
Business Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1993-8233
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJBM
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 4193

Full Length Research Paper

The influence of the college environment on the development of entrepreneurial intentions

Chilangwa Isabel Elitas
  • Chilangwa Isabel Elitas
  • Department of Applied Sciences and Business Studies, Faculty of Business Studies, Northern Technical College, Zambia.
  • Google Scholar
Mwaanga Clement
  • Mwaanga Clement
  • Department of Business Studies, Faculty of Business Studies, Mulungushi University, Zambia.
  • Google Scholar
Siame Moulen
  • Siame Moulen
  • Department of Business Studies, Faculty of Business Studies, Mulungushi University, Zambia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 14 July 2022
  •  Accepted: 28 November 2022
  •  Published: 31 January 2023


This study aimed to assess the factors that influence the formation of entrepreneurial intentions (EIs) among college students in Zambia. The research was built on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) by Ajzne, to identify how the constructs of the same theory are manipulated by the factors that influence entrepreneurship intention formation among college students at Northern Technical College and Kabwe Institute of Technology. Primary data were obtained from 300 students through a self-administered questionnaire and was analysed using structural equation modelling. The study findings reported a positive relationship between the independent variables in the name of risk-taking (RST), college environment (CE) and entrepreneurship education (EE) and (EIs). Attitude towards entrepreneurship (ATE) was observed to mediate the relationship between RST and EIs while subjective norms (SN) were observed to mediate the relationship between RST and EIs. Perceived behavioural control (PBC) was reported to mediate the interaction between all three independent variables and Els. The results presented both theoretical and practical implications and recommendations were made to policymakers and suggestions for future research.


Key words: Entrepreneurial intention, risk-taking, college environment, entrepreneurship education.


Given the growing interest among government in the role entrepreneurship play in achieving socio-economic development objectives, the development of policies aimed to promote entrepreneurship in developing countries has received a lot of attention (Karimi et al., 2017). Many countries are considering entrepreneurship as a panacea for employment creation, technology transfer, infrastructure development and economic growth (Mumba, 2017). To enhance entrepreneurial activities and promote economic development in Zambia, the government has introduced entrepreneurship subjects in all the programmes offered by Technical education Vocation entrepreneurship and Technology (TEVET) institutions (Kazonga, 2019). Since College schooling is not regarded to be a passageway to acquire formal jobs for graduates hence the prerequisite to contemplate entrepreneurialism and self-employment ?s ? feasible occupation alternative (Ajike et. ?l, 2015).


Although, it is generally accepted that College education increase graduate employability, in Zambia the situation is different. About 72% of the youths are not employed (Mwiya et al., 2017).


Literature has shown that the development of entrepreneurial intentions is a pre-requisite for entrepreneurial behaviour, especially among students (Bagheri and Pihie, 2015). Therefore, establishing the factors that influence the formation of entrepreneurial intention has received a lot of attention among scholars (Tung et al., 2020). ????rding to Y?ld?r?m et ?l. (2016), "these f??t?rs are ??teg?rized ?s intern?l (?ers?n?lity) and extern?l (??ntextu?l ?r envir?nment); ?ers?n?l hist?ry, s??i?l ??ntext, ?ttitudes t?w?rd entre?reneurshi?, ?l?nned beh?vi?ur and ?ers?n?lity tr?its are ??inted ?ut ?s f??t?rs th?t h?ve im???t ?n the ?r??ensity to eng?ge in entre?reneurshi?". In exploring the formation of students' entrepreneurial intentions, two significant issues have been raised. Firstly, it has been observed that studies establishing the formation of entrepreneurial intention have focused on personality and environmental factors (Luthje and Franke, 2003; Nabi and Linan, 2013). Y?ld?r?m et ?l. (2016) proposed the need for future research to explore further the impact of ?ers?n?lity, college environment/edu??ti?n ?n entrepreneurial intentions in one study. Secondly, these studies have been conducted in developing countries or innovative-driven economies. Hence the need to conduct this studies in a developing country, Zambia in particular by combining these factors.


Therefore, the main aim of this study is to replicate the western models in a developing country context to establish whether these factors have the same influence on the development of entrepreneurial intentions among students in Zambia and those in developed countries and hence the rationale for this study.


Entrepreneurship and TPB


Entrepreneurship is regarded as the backbone of economic growth in an economy due to its ability to exploit opportunities in the market and change its structure (Wilfred, 2015). Its consists of three key elements namely; the creation or expansion of business; risk-taking or acceptance of failure and identification and exploitation of new opportunities to produce new products or processes/markets (Muhumed, 2021). European Commission (2012) states that the basis for the establishment of an activity socially or commercially for entrepreneurs is the term, entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is nothing but the process of creating new things valuably responding in particular to available opportunities; hence involves time, effort and risk assumption with the expectation of rewards in the end which can take monetary or non-monetary form (Pahujaand Sanjeev, 2016). Entrepreneurship is considered to be a combination of Entrepreneur and Enterprise (Badhai, 2005). As a way to understand entrepreneurship in full, there should be clear definitions of who an entrepreneur is and what an enterprise is. A definition by Gedik et al. (2015) of an entrepreneur is that the term refers to “someone who manages organizes and presumes the risks of an enterprise or a business“; creates or develops something that no one has thought about it before. In this case, EI is considered to be the basis for establishing a new business venture in the long run (Karimi et al., 2017).


According to ?hin?nye et al. (2016), EI is defined as, the willingness of an individual to express entre?reneuri?l beh?vi?ur ?r engages in entrepreneurial ??tivities ?ss??i?ted with self-employment initiatives or new business start-ups.


Krueger (1993) states that, EI is the dedication to carry out a certain action necessary to ?hysi??lly start a business venture. On the other hand, Bird (1988), EI is an alert disposition focusing on individual experience, attentiveness, and conduct about entre?reneuri?l behaviours. EIs of individuals are known to predict entrepreneurial behaviours although there is no identical definition of EIs despite many studies having been conducted (Peng et al., 2012; Ohanu and Ogbuanya (2018) state that the intention for entrepreneurship is a result of one’s attitudes and values; that is the motivation or desire to set up and manage a business venture also known as an enterprise. Mwiya et al. (2017) state that intention in itself is a demonstration of how much more someone is eager to strive and how much of an endeavour he or she is prepared to employ, to carry out intended actions.


To understand the formation of EIs and how they translate into entrepreneurial behaviour, most of the studies have employed the TPB (Karimi et al, 2017; Mustafa et al., 2016; Alok et al., 2017; Laguía et al., 2019; Zovko et al. (2020).  The TPB by Ajzen (1991) has been extensively applied in EIs studies in the last decade (Ebewo et. al, 2017). The model explains the link between human belief and human behaviour in an attempt to undertake a certain course of action using three antecedents of EIs as follows:


a. Attitudes towards Entrepreneurship (ATE)- refers to the degree of conduct subject to a person’s evaluation or assessment that is either favourable or unfavourable concerning the behaviour in question (Saraih et al., 2018).


b. Social Norm (SN) is said to be one’s perception of the pressure exerted by society to either carry out or not particular behaviours such as influence by parents, role models, and peers among others (Zovko et al., 2020).


c. Perceived Behavioural Control (PBC)- this is one’s viewpoint  of easiness or difficulties in undertaking certain actions. This may be one's subjective behaviour such as personal assessment of whether one can do it or not reflecting on experience or anticipated obstacles and failures (Pejic et al., 2018)


A study conducted by Shah and Soomro (2017) reported a positive interaction between the two antecedents of EIs (ATE and SN) and EIs and PBC was not statistically significant. Other studies have indicated a positive relationship between three antecedents of EIs (ATE, SN and PBC) and EIs (Fantaye, 2019; Kwarbai et al., 2016; Zovko et al., 2020). A survey by Wambua et al. (2020) carried out in Kenya on graduating students of business studies underscores the influence of ATE as a mediating variable in the creation of entrepreneurship intentions amongst students. Karla et al. (2017) state that PBC in line with intention was seen to be strengthened by entrepreneurial education (EE) while the university environment through ATE affected the intentionality to be entrepreneurial through attitude towards entrepreneurship. Based on the above discussion, we tested the following hypotheses


H1a: ATE as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between EE and EI

H1b: ATE as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between EC and EI

H1c: ATE as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between RST and EI

H2a: SN as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between EE and EI

H2b: SN as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between CE and EI

H2c: SN as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between RST and EI

H3a: PBC as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between EE and EIs

H3b: PBC as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between CE and EIs

H3c: PBC as an antecedent of EIs mediate the relationship between RSTand EIs


EE and EIs


EE is considered to be one of the factors that influence the development of EI, especially among students. However, Kurniawan et al. (2021) suggested that EE only is not sufficient because life in itself is education although it is pervasive. They then conclude that formal, informal, and non-formal education can lead to any entrepreneurialism decision. According to Maresch et al. (2016) EE increases EIs. Along the same line, additionally, and Kisolo (2016) established that entrepreneurial knowledge/education of the undergraduate using a sample of 100 students significantly affected their intent. Israr and Saleem (2018) a study conducted in Italy showed that EE showed positive results towards intention. It can be seen that EE affects the intentions of would-be entrepreneurs moderately as presented by Keat et al. (2011). Kwarbai et al. (2016), presented results in which students accessing EE had a high likelihood of forming enterprises as opposed to those that did not partake.  Among all the various elements favourable towards the initiative to be entrepreneurial, education is distinctive since it becomes a part of cognitive as well as socio-cultural approaches (Peris-Ortiz et al, 2016).  As indicated by Zovko et al. (2020), EE plays a noticeable role in students’ awareness of their ability to lead entrepreneurial activity and their weaknesses in management which need to be improved. However, contradictory results were found in a study conducted by Mohammed (2020) that found an insignificant relationship between EE and EIs. Therefore, students who have acquired knowledge of entrepreneurship education are more likely to engage in entrepreneurial activities. Thus the hypothesis was formulated as follows and tested:


H4: EE as an environmental variable has a positive relationship with EIs


RST and EIs


RST as a personality factor has a significant influence on the formation of EIs (Antoncic, 2000). For a long time, researchers in the field of entrepreneurship have reinforced the idea that establishing an enterprise is a risky behaviour, trying to prove that willingness to take risks or risk appetite is a personal feature that distinguishes between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs; the former can bear risks independently as there is no fear of the obstacles hence, he/she is careful of everything and takes the necessary measures to deal with sudden cases (Omar et al., 2018).


The propensity to take on risks is said to be an ability to take or avoid risks; hence entrepreneurship in the same vein has always been likened to RST (Ozaralli and Nancy, 2016). The ability to take risks was regarded as having a linear relationship with intentions to be enterprising according to Moraes et al. (2018). Attitude toward RST was seen to affect intentions to be enterprising (Moraes et al., 2018). Zovko et al. (2020) concluded that Croatian students with a reduced aversion toward risk had entrepreneurial intentions for a higher degree. A study carried out to ascertain how readiness to bear risk affects the intention to be enterprising learners presented that being a lover of risk positively but moderately affected intentions hence the conclusion that willingness to be a risk-taker is one distinctive factor for features of entrepreneurship (Yurtkoru et al., 2014). A study was conducted among 274 Pakistani students (university level) in assessing the impact of the five major personal characteristics on intentionality for entrepreneurship with risk aversion as a mediator; there is therefore a considerable relationship between aversion to risk and intentions (Malik et al., 2020). Given the above discussion, the hypothesis was tested which reads:


H5: RST as a personality factor has a positive influence on EIs


CE and EIs


Literature has described the CE as a place where individuals interact which at the same time has a great influence on the decision to become entrepreneurs (Barral et al., 2018). Moraes and others (2018) state that the environment is a construct for EI which is influential in that when the assessment of the environment is positive, EI tends to increase.


Moraes et al. (2018) further add by citing CE as a factor that affects the intention to be enterprising to the highest degree; this way, when there is a positive assessment of the CE by the student; intention also increases. A survey by Moraes et al. (2018) was used to probe entrepreneurial and CE traits' effect on the intention to be enterprising using 287 students at the undergraduate level imploring a layout considering the university environment as having a linear relationship with EIs. It was discovered that intentionality by learners to engage in enterprising activities was resulting out of the positive effect of the environment of the university in collaboration with some existing information on entrepreneurship studies. A survey of 3037 targeted graduates of business studies in the public higher learning institutions with a sample size of 354 students; analysis was done and it revealed that an insignificant but positive  correlation existed between CE and intentions to be enterprising by business-related learners in public institutions (Wambua et al., 2020). With this information, the hypothesis was tested which reads:


H6: CE as an environmental factor has a positive relationship with EIs.


Sample and data collection


In this study, a sample size of 300 Northern Technical College and Kabwe Institute of Technology students registered in 2018 was used (Schoch, 2020). Simple random sampling was employed to enhance accuracy and easy access to respondents (Saunders et al., 2009; Babbie, 2007). A total of 300 questionnaires were distributed and returned representing a 100% response rate.  As suggested by Hair et al. (2010) the responses from the questionnaires were checked for outliers and missing data before the validation process was conducted.  Both independent and dependent items on the questionnaire were measured using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The demographic characteristics of the respondents are indicated in Table 1.



This section presents the findings from the quantitative primary data collected from northern technical and Kabwe institute of technology students. The findings show that 60.7% of the respondents were male and only 39.3% were female. This is attributed to the fact that the College enrolled more males than females and very few females are willing to take up engineering-related courses. From Table 1 it can be seen that the highest age range of respondents in this research was above 25 years old. This represents 49% of the total respondents sampled followed by 24% which catered for the age range of 22 to 23 years old. The age category from 24 to 25 years followed by those less than 20 years of age took up 14% and 10% respectively.


Of the 300 students surveyed, 40.3% of the respondents were from the Mechanical department, 11.3% from the Applied Sciences and Business Studies while 8.7% were from the automotive department and 39.7% from the Electrical department. This is to say of all the students that are currently pursuing entrepreneurship as a subject, the Mechanical department was more responsive while the Electrical was less responsive.


Lastly, the results show that 35.7% of the respondents were pursuing diploma programs while 47% and 17.3% were pursuing Advanced and Craft certificate programmes respectively.


Factor analysis


To conduct factor analysis, 41 items were used to measure the constructs based on the research model developed to test the hypotheses. Out of 41 items, 4 of them loaded weakly below 0.63 and were excluded from further analysis. The remaining 39 items loaded above 0.63 which indicated the suitability of the measuring instrument (Table 2). Tabachnick and Fidell (2007) recommended factor loadings of 0.63 and above as being very good.


Structural equation modelling


Before SEM was conducted, confirmatory factors analysis was performed to establish the reliability and construct validity of the measurement model (Hair et al., 2010). The proposed model reported an absolute fit (Ahmed and Ward, 2016) of the data (X2 = 511.221; RMSEA= 0.091; CFI=0.985; TLI=0.910). All 7 constructs reported factor loadings above 0.5 which is fair (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2007) and confirmed the discriminant validity of the constructs. Reliability was achieved using the inter-consistency analysis as shown in Table 2. All the nine constructed reported Cronbach alpha values were above 0.5. Additionally, the CR values for all the constructs were greater than 0.5. According to Tabachnick and Fidell (2007), where the AVE values are too strict, the CR values can be used to determine reliability.


To establish the best fit for the data, direct paths were added from RST, CE and EE to EI and from ATE to PBC and vice versa. Only the path from RST to EI and the covariance (ATE and PBC) were significant (P<0.05).

Therefore, the revised model (Figure 1) reported the best fit for the data and was tested.  


Table 3 shows the SEM results indicating the hypotheses accepted and rejected. The results have reported a positive association between RST and EI (Coef. 5.246; p=0.010). Thus hypothesis H5 is supported. Also, the interaction between CE and EI was statistically significant (Coef. 0.1717; p= 0.000). Hypothesis H6 is accepted as well. Additionally, EE reported a significant relationship with EI (Coef. 04882; p= 0.000).  Based on these results hypothesis H4 is accepted.


Testing for mediation


From Table 3, it can be seen that ATE has a significant relationship with EI (Coef. 0.1611; p= 0.000), but its association with CE was not statistically significant ( Coef. 0.0528; p=0.151). Therefore, ATE was not found to mediate the relationship between CE and EI. Thus, H1b was not supported. However, ATE reported positive associations with RST (Coef. 0.4774; p=0.000) and hypothesis H1a was not supported. Furthermore, its association with EE (Coef, -0.0108; p=0.778) was not statistically significant and hypothesis H1c was also rejected.


The relationship between SN and the two independent variables yielded non-significant results. SN had a negative relationship with EE (Coef. -0.0476; p=0.068) and  CE (Coef. -0.0277; p=0.268). Its relationship with RST was statistically significant (Coef. -8.4234; p=0.000). Additionally, its relationship with EI was significant (Coef. 0.6134; p= 0.000). Thus SN mediates the relationship between the independent variable RST and EI. Based on the above discussion, hypothesis H2c was accepted


PBC was found to be positively related to all the independent variables; CE (Coef. 0.2663; p=0.000), EE ( Coef. 0.2663; p=0.000) and RST (Coef. 0.7279; p=0.000). The interaction between PBC and EI was also significant (Coef. -0.1622; p=0.000). The findings indicate that PBC mediates the relationship between the independent variables and EI. Therefore hypotheses H3a, H3b and H3c were supported.





In this study, the personality factors (RST) and environmental factors (CE and EE) were added to the TPB and examined to determine their influence on the EIs of College students in the Zambian context. The analysis in Table 3 revealed a significant association between the RST and EIs. The results are in agreement with the findings from previous studies which reported a positive interaction between RST and EIs (Ozaralli and Nancy, 2016; Antoncic, 2000; Omar et al., 2018; Moraes et al., 2018 ). Increasing  students'  ability to take up risks


enhances their chances and abilities to identify and exploit new business opportunities and engage in entrepreneurial behaviour. Yurtkoru et al. (2014) suggested that risk-taking is one of the characteristics  of an entrepreneur. Therefore, enhancing the risk-taking abilities of College students will stimulate their formation of EIs and prepare them to create new business ventures.


Most studies have reported a positive relationship between EE and EIs (Maresch et al., 2016; Israr and Saleem, 2018; Kurniawan et al., 2021; Kwarbai et al., 2016). The results of this study are in agreemen with the prior studies on entrepreneurial intentions. The relationship between EE and EI was statistically significant in Zambia. This can be attributed to the similarities in the design and offering of  EE in developing countries like Zambia and developed nations.  It was observed that students who are equipped with entrepreneurial knowledge and skills are more likely to undertake entrepreneurial activities (Zovko et al., 2020). Therefore, when the EE is properly designed and offered to students, their ability to recognise and exploit opportunities is enhanced and they can engage themselves in entrepreneurship behaviours.  However, contrary results were reported in a study conducted by Mohammed (2020) who reported an insignificant relationship between EE and EIs.


Another positive association was observed between CE and EIs like in previous studies (Barral et al., 2018; Moraes et al., 2018). On the other hand, a study conducted by Wambua et al. (2020) reported a non-significant relationship between CE and EI. The explanation for this is that the assessment of the College environment   differs   between   students in developed economies and those in developing economies like Zambia. When students have a positive assessment of the College environment and other support services being offered, their formation of EI is stimulated  (Moraes et al., 2018).


Several prior studies reported positive interaction between the three antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions (ATE, SN and PBC) and  EIs (Linan and Chen, 2009; Nabi and Linan, 2013; Fantaye, 2019; Kwarbai et al., 2016; Zovko et al., 2020) this study was not exceptional. All three antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions (ATE, PBC and SN) reported significant interactions with EIs. With regards to independent variables, RST was reported to be positively related to ATE  while EE and CE were not. This was an indication that ATE mediates the relationship between RST and EIs. A recent study conducted by Wambua et al. (2020) on students in Kanya found ATE to be a mediator in the formation of EIs.  Similarly, Karla et al (2017) reported a significant association between ATE and EIs. Thus increasing students' ATE through enhanced RST could positively influence the formation of EIs among students. On the other hand, CE and EE were not found to be positively related to SN except for RST suggesting that RST mediates the relationship between RST and EIs.


On PBC, all three independent variables reported positive interactions highlighting the mediating effects of PBC on the relationship between EE, CE and RST and EIs. From the findings, it can be seen that improving EE, CE and RST strengthens students' PBC which could influence positively the formation of EIs.


This research aimed to investigate the influence of personality and environmental factors on the formation of students' entrepreneurial intentions in Zambia. The study has reported positive interactions between the independent variables (EE, CE and RST) and EIs. Also, the mediation effects of PBC on the relationship between three independent variables and EI have been established. Furthermore, the antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions ATE and SN have been observed both to mediate the relationship between RST and EIs while the other mediations on EE and CE failed.


The study results provide both theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, the study has highlighted the significance of personality and environmental factors in the formation of entrepreneurial intentions of College students.


The study has demonstrated that environmental factors and personality factors studied in isolation to university students can be combined to College students to explain the formation of EIs. From the practical perspective, the study has identified the environmental factors that enhance the formation of entrepreneurial intentions. Improving CE in terms of infrastructure and material resources, strengthening entrepreneurship education and enhancing students' RST ability could positively increase their ATE, PBC and SN and influence the formation of intentions. Therefore educators should provide the necessary infrastructure required for experiential learning to increase students' abilities and competencies needed for venture creation.


While some of the independent variables and antecedents of EI have not reported positive results. Additional research is needed to be conducted in different developing countries, incorporate more personality and contextual variables and operationalised them differently (Karimi et al, 2017). Furthermore, there needs to be studied further on the CE by focusing more on the impact close family and friends influence on students' EIs employing the mixed method of data collection which is one of the limitations of this study. Additionally, future research can also compare the formation of EI between students from private and public Colleges.


The theory of planned behaviour proves to be a tool that directly influences intention at the effect of other factors contextual or inherent. The research findings recommend that the study of Entrepreneurship is split into two to be offered in the first year of study as well as the final year to create an entrepreneurial environment conducive to business establishment and growth. An entrepreneurship centre is also recommended to be established that will have a database of graduates that become entrepreneurs for easy links and connections between students and graduates as well as other successful entrepreneurs.


The authors have not declared any conflict of interests.


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