Efforts towards sustainability, which plays an important role in the economic and social development of countries in a globalizing world, are important in order to achieve successful levels of sustainability. In recent years, it has been observed that the analysis of sustainability studies occurs at an individual, institutional, and universal level. The globalization process has led companies to seek activities that will create a sustainable competitive advantage and value. Entrepreneurs, who are among the most important actors in national economies, implement their ideas and take their businesses into the future with their different perspectives and innovative structures. Entrepreneurship represents an extremely important resource for employment, economic growth, innovation, product and service quality improvement, sustainability, competition, and economic flexibility for both countries and businesses [1
]. Entrepreneurship contributes greatly to a country’s economic development by promoting innovation, improving economic structures, advancing technology, and creating new jobs, thus playing a key role in increasing economic prosperity, wealth, and sustainability [2
]. The changes that the business world in Turkey has experienced in recent years, along with increased competition, decreased public sector employment, and changes in the nature of the workforce, have increased the importance of entrepreneurship development in parallel with economic growth in the information technology (IT) and services sector. In particular, university education, where people’s tendencies towrd entrepreneurship are formed and where these tendencies can be influenced to increase, offers a very important range of entrepreneurship research in Turkey and globally.
On the other hand, knowledge and technology are indispensable elements of our era. Today, thanks to developing technology, access to information has become quite easy. Besides these developments, the existing information and renewal rate have also increased greatly. Therefore, there have been changes in the characteristics of individuals who make up society. The personality characteristics that determine the relationship between the individual and his/her environment, and that express the totality of the features that distinguish him/herself from others, are important factors that guide entrepreneurs in their daily lives [3
]. Determining the different personality skills and abilities of students and guiding them in the appropriate fields contributes to the achievement of both individual and corporate success.
With today’s renewed, developing, and constantly changing knowledge, the individual has a constant need to learn. This constant change and renewal of information necessitates a continuous learning process. In this process, the concept of lifelong learning comes to the fore. Unlike normal learning, lifelong learning removes the dependence of the learning process on age, time, and space. In order for individuals to achieve the qualifications that are required in this age, it is necessary to gain lifelong skills such as learning to learn. In particular, entrepreneur candidates who are going to operate in a dynamic environment are also changing their competencies to keep up with this constantly changing and developing era. The developing, renewing, and globalizing world, while affecting individuals in many ways, also encourages them to start learning again at any moment. Determining the lifelong learning and entrepreneurship tendencies of university students with different personality characteristics, who are prepared for the business world in particular, is important at this point. Furthermore, in an information society, it is necessary for these students to have their own awareness of individual learning responsibility, to develop their learning skills, to be open to innovation, and to ensure that these skills are sustainable for life. Similarly, entrepreneurship activities, which are expressed as having an invisible effect on the economy, are nourished by innovative, creative, and continuous learning activities, and include formulas for creating sustainable value that are also critical.
Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the effect of personality characteristics in university students who are potential entrepreneurs on their entrepreneurial intentionsand determine whether this effect and lifelong learning tendencies are mediated. In this study, the concepts of personality, entrepreneurship, and lifelong learning tendencies will first be explained briefly and the research findings will be included within the framework of the developed model. It is thought that the information obtained as a result of this research will be beneficial for both the literature and practitioners. This is, in particular, due to the necessity of educating creative and innovative individuals, who constitute an important part of a country’s competitiveness, with personality characteristics and lifelong learning skills in line with the research results: individuals who are capable of developing their critical and creative thinking, communication, research-inquiry, problem-solving, and entrepreneurship skills. This also benefits institutions. Increasing students’ entrepreneurship tendencies increases individuals’ success at expressing their ideas, at managing the process of doing business, at adapting quickly to any changes experienced, at making informed decisions, at maintaining motivation in the face of failure, and at developing competencies to find the best solutions.
5. Results, Conclusions, and Recommendations
Sustainability studies are based on the individual’s awareness that resources are limited in his/her physical, emotional, social, philosophical, and intellectual life. At the same time, it is emphasized that awareness should be raised with regard to transferring resources to future generations. An individual who is conscious about sustainability can analyze problems systematically in order to understand the environmental, social, and economic aspects of society. At this point, the concept of personality, which is the main player in individuals’ behavioral differences, comes to the fore. Many psychologists, instructors, philosophers, and engineers have addressed this complex structure, which includes what constitutes personality, how it manifests, and the personality characteristics that are necessary to train a multi-functional individual. A common theme in all of this research is that personality is related to various factors that form a complex system where changes may cause other unforeseen changes in other factors [52
Similarly, financial and environmental scandals and problems in recent years have caused social unrest and environmental decay. Individuals should be held responsible for the emergence of these problems. On the other hand, it can be seen that these individuals are fundamentally capable of innovative, creative, and solution-oriented entrepreneurial efforts. Individuals with sustainable entrepreneurial characteristics adopt a holistic business approach that combines economic, social, and environmental values, and implement these practices in this direction. These entrepreneurs provide services using their ability to choose sustainable and innovative practices, to create social networks and to generate financial income. At this point, it is expected that there will be certain personality characteristics that do not define sustainable entrepreneurial behaviors and actions. Personality characteristics are partly developed by innate competences, socialization, and education. These characteristics are also composed of values and beliefs, and play a guiding role in the decision-making processes of entrepreneurs. If these personality characteristics can be identified, it is thought that business, management, and sustainability training will increase entrepreneurial drive.
The biggest problem for university students is finding a job in their specialized areas. Entrepreneurship at this point offers a way out for these young people. It is an alternative for them to start their own business and contribute to the economy with products and ideas that create added value within the scope of their competencies.
In recent years, entrepreneurship has been expressed as an invisible hand in the economy by businesses and countries. It can be seen that both the importance of entrepreneurship and the number of studies on this issue have increased along with a recognition of the need for entrepreneurs who think differently and create sustainable value with their innovative ideas. Entrepreneurship intentions are one of the dimensions of entrepreneurship. Intentions refer to a person’s mental state that directs attention, experience, and behavior toward a particular object or behavior. In short, intentions predict an individual’s mental state before their behavior. Therefore, it is important to investigate the entrepreneurship intentions of university students, who are potential entrepreneurial candidates.
The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of university students’ personality characteristics on their entrepreneurial intentions and to determine whether there is a mediator role in lifelong learning tendencies.
In the research, it was found that the participants’ personality characteristics and sub-dimensions had a significant and positive relationship with their entrepreneurial intentions. Past studies on the subject support the findings of the present study [3
]. Although there is a positive relationship between the dimensions of personality and entrepreneurship tendencies [53
] openness to emotional balance and experience [54
], and extroversion, Zhao et al. [30
] found that there is no relationship between the dimensions of emotional balance, while Low and MacMillan [37
] concluded that there is no relationship between personality and entrepreneurship tendencies.
A significant, positive and moderate relationship was determined between personality characteristics and lifelong learning tendencies. This result was reported by Garipagaoglu [40
] and Eksioglu et al. [41
]. Similarly, a significant positive but weak relationship was found between the participants’ lifelong learning and entrepreneurship intentions. Gultekin and Erdogan [44
] found a positive relationship between social entrepreneurship and lifelong learning tendencies. In the last finding of this study, it was found that lifelong learning tendencies have a partial mediating role in the relationship between the students’ personality characteristics and entrepreneurship tendencies. At this point, it was observed that the personality characteristics of individuals affect their entrepreneurship intentions; and with the introduction of lifelong learning tendencies to the model, the effect of personality characteristics on entrepreneurial intentions decreased but remained significant. There are no studies in the literature to support this finding.
This study presents some important results for individuals, businesses and countries, and brings some suggestions together. It is important to identify potential entrepreneurial candidates who can create economic value for their countries and businesses and those who intend to become entrepreneurs in the future. Identifying, supporting, and encouraging students and employees who intend to become entrepreneurs is necessary in order to provide a sustainable competitive advantage. On the other hand, it is important to determine the personality characteristics of those candidates who have entrepreneurship intentions and to investigate which individuals with these characteristics could be more entrepreneurial. Through determining the personality characteristics of entrepreneurial individuals, education should be provided to improve these characteristics in children, starting from primary school. It is also important to educate individuals who can access information and use it to create new knowledge in the philosophy of lifelong learning, and to play an important role in educational institutions.
Similarly, countries’ increasing needs for individuals who are innovative, creative, and able to think differently, as a result of which they can turn their thoughts into activities, contributing both to themselves and to their countries, have highlighted the concept of entrepreneurship. In this context, in order to develop entrepreneurship, priority has been given to practices that support entrepreneurship in every institution, and especially the state. As mentioned above, the state plays a major role in identifying and training potential entrepreneurial candidates in universities. According to the findings of this research, a positive relationship was found between personality characteristics, lifelong learning, and the entrepreneurship tendencies of university students. Although there is a positive relationship between the five dimensions of personality and entrepreneurship tendencies, a stronger relationship was found in particular with the dimensions of emotional balance and openness to experience. In other words, it can be seen that individuals who are highly consistent in their relationships and emotions, and who are open to learning and trying new things, have a greater tendency to start jobs and complete the work they started. The weakest relationship was found to be extraversion; it was determined that students with active and communicative characteristics had a relatively fewer entrepreneurial tendencies than the other dimensions. In addition, the lifelong learning tendencies of students who have the personality characteristics of responsibility, consistency, and extroversion were found to be strong.
When these findings are examined, it is important that universities provide entrepreneurial training and encourage entrepreneurship by identifying personality characteristics, lifelong learning tendencies, and entrepreneurial intentions in students with the following personality characteristics: consistency, openness to experience, innovation, and learning, and who have great potential to become entrepreneurs. At this point, it is recommended that students who avoid taking responsibility, who are inconsistent and closed to development and learning, and who do not have the potential to become entrepreneurs should not benefit from this training. In this way, teachers will be able to work with more competent and interested students and make concrete improvements. This will create benefits for the government, universities, and individuals in terms of labor, time, and cost.
The findings of this research reveal that students’ characteristics, abilities, competencies, and tendencies need to formulate a desire to start jobs, to fulfill their responsibilities, and to achieve and continue their results. At this point, it is important to raise awareness about which individual aspects are superior and which are inferior. This is because competitiveness in today’s business world can only be realized by individuals who know themselves, who are aware of their characteristics, and who develop those characteristics with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities. These findings have significant effects. It is recommended that training programs in higher education institutions are designed, especially in order to identify and develop the personality characteristics and values of business leaders who produce the social, environmental, and economic values of the future and transform them into sustainable entrepreneurs.
There were three basic limitations in this research. The first concerned the data collection method. This research was conducted using the survey method, and collecting data from a single source (the individual himself) may cause bias. This could increase the magnitude of the linear relationships resulting from the analysis. Collecting data from different sources in future studies will eliminate this limitation. Another limitation of this study came from the selected sample, which consisted of students from certain programs at Erciyes University. This made it difficult to generalize the research results. Students and entrepreneurial candidates from different programs and universities could be included in similar studies in the future. The third limitation of this study was the variables that were included. In this study, variables were collected and analyzed for the specified purpose. However, there are many variables other than personality and lifelong learning that affect entrepreneurship intentions. Other variables that were ignored in this study could be considered in future studies.