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The Socio-educational, Psychological and Family-Related Antecedents of Entrepreneurial Intentions among Spanish Youth

Departamento de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Burgos, 09001 Burgos, Spain
Departamento de Ciencias de la Educación, Universidad de Burgos, 09001 Burgos, Spain
Grupo de Inteligencia Computacional Aplicada (GICAP), Departamento de Ingeniería Civil, Escuela Politécnica Superior, Universidad de Burgos, 09006 Burgos, Spain
Department of Management, KEDGE Business School, 33400 Talence, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1252;
Received: 3 January 2019 / Revised: 20 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 27 February 2019


Despite the abundant scientific literature on entrepreneurship, there is still only limited information on young students’ entrepreneurial intentions. The reasons for this, may be generally found in the different conceptual approaches to entrepreneurial intention, and particularly in the variables that regulate and act as antecedents to such intentions. This bias has generated different lines of investigation into the factors relating to entrepreneurial intention among students. One line of investigation is centered on the variables that influence entrepreneurial intention, in particular, relational, educational, and psychological variables, and another is centered on the antecedents of entrepreneurial intention, amongst which is entrepreneurial interest. In this paper, we seek to analyze the relationship between the entrepreneurial interest of Spanish youth and a set of socio-educational, psychological, and health-related variables using principal component analysis. A previously validated ad hoc questionnaire was administered to 1764 students (15–18 years old). Notably, few Spanish youth expressed significantly high entrepreneurial interest; those who did were mostly men with a family tradition of entrepreneurial parents, who held high perceptions of their health and quality of life, and considered it important in business to detect opportunities beforehand and to create employment. Their principal motives were to improve their professional development, to put their ideas into practice, and to achieve economic independence. This paper proposes the early detection of entrepreneurial interests in young people in order to reinforce these interests as potential long-term initiatives.

1. Introduction

Entrepreneurship is an activity of great interest, especially due to the need to overcome the constant and burgeoning economic problems currently experienced by many countries in terms of unemployment, economic growth, and innovation [1,2,3,4,5].
In the last decades, research interest in entrepreneurship has gained momentum in both the impetus given to it as an interdisciplinary research program [6,7,8], and in increased research production [1,9,10] on the topic. However, despite scientific progress, the behavior and efficiency of the antecedents of entrepreneurial initiatives and behaviors are unknown, making it difficult to explain a large part of the variations in this activity [11,12,13].
Additionally, in Spain and the European Union, young people are among those most affected by the crisis and imbalance of the economic system, and they are frequently unaware of the opportunities offered by entrepreneurship as an increasingly accessible alternative [14]. In this sense, several investigations have focused on youth entrepreneurship. For example, Kurowska-Pysz [15] studied the effectiveness of Academic Incubators of Entrepreneurship (AIE) in Poland with a group of young people in secondary education and higher education. The aim was to promote managerial competencies in students, and formulate recommendations in terms of the development of managerial skills or future entrepreneurs. Kurowska-Pysz [15] saw that students who participated, perceived the development of desirable traits and the strengthening of specific entrepreneurial and management competencies, which increased their motivation to start a business after leaving the incubator.
Similarly, Johansen [16] performed a quantitative study of former participants in Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise (JA-YE) Europe programs and he found that usually participants in entrepreneurship education programs are more likely to become entrepreneurs. The study of Finisterra do Paco et al. [17] showed a clear impact of general education on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activity. This has led to an increased interest from researchers in entrepreneurship education programs. Furthermore, some works suggest the idea that early formal entrepreneurship education can have an impact on the attitudes of students, influencing them in the direction of their future career, increasing their propensity for entrepreneurship when they become adults [18,19].

1.1. Theoretical Background

The complex nature of entrepreneurship and of the variables involved in entrepreneurial processes (psychological, socio-educational, and family or relational) have awakened the interest of part of the scientific community in determining which aspects influence individuals’ entrepreneurial initiative, especially in young people [20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27]. In this context, we understand entrepreneurship as a complex human capability due to the confluence of factors that make it difficult to identify effective predictors of entrepreneurial intentions and behaviors [14,28].
It is precisely the process prior to action where entrepreneurial intention and its influential variables assume relevance to explain the two interrelated processes that constitute entrepreneurship: Discovery of opportunities and their exploitation. These processes drive a large part of the variations of any subsequent activity, which is pointed out in the theory of planned behavior [12,13,26,29,30].
It is known that human intentionality immediately precedes action, situating itself as a central factor for planned behavior [31,32,33]. Thus, entrepreneurial intention can arise as a planned behavior, both in the establishment of the firm and in the improvement of intra-enterprise entrepreneurship [26,34,35,36,37,38,39].
Despite the empirical validation of these proposals that have deepened our understanding of entrepreneurial initiatives, there is still only limited evidence on the aspects that precede and stimulate entrepreneurial intentions [39,40,41,42]. As Lanero et al. [36] and Liñan and Chen [26] point out, the reasons for the lack of research on entrepreneurial intentions may be due to the researchers’ different conceptual approaches toward entrepreneurial intention, in particular with regard to the variables that regulate and act as antecedents to such an intention [43,44,45].
In this regard, there is agreement between researchers in consider entrepreneurial intention as a multidimensional construct that is determined by a varied set of aspects [46]. For example, Fayolle and Gailly [27] pointed out the relevance of social status, cultural norms, and the model of parents and close relatives. In particular, these authors showed in their study that the initial level of entrepreneurial intention appears to be a key indicator to the students’ profile and better orient them. Liñan [47] pointed out the importance of social values related to entrepreneurship and the perception of personal skills, as aspects that affect entrepreneurial intention. The author assigned a relevance to entrepreneurial skills as opportunity recognition, creativity, problem solving, leadership, communication, innovation, and networking creation. Finally, Finisterra do Paco et al. [17] found in their research that personal attitudes are very important to explain the entrepreneurial intention. This lead them to assert that the education and training should center themselves much more in changing or stimulating personal attitudes, rather than in providing technical knowledge about businesses.
However, the investigation on entrepreneurial intention among students is still at an exploratory stage that is undergoing theoretical and conceptual development [26,48,49]. In this sense, Fayolle and Liñan [48] saw that the understanding of entrepreneurial intention can contribute to design of more effective education initiatives. In addition, the excessive use of university students in convenience samples and the few studies with adolescents have limited the generalization of the results to the population of potential non-university entrepreneurs [50,51].
This bias has generated different lines of investigation in the study of the factors relating to entrepreneurial intention among students. The scientific literature covers two of the most relevant ones: One is centered generally on the variables that influence entrepreneurial intention and particularly on the variables of a relational or family nature, as well as educational and psychological variables; and the other is centered on the study of the antecedents of intention, including entrepreneurial interest.
The first of the research lines centered on the variables that influenced entrepreneurial intention, in particular relational, socio-educational, and psychological factors (see Figure 1). The insufficient predictive power of each one may be highlighted as well as the need to identify the psychosocial and educational profiles of future entrepreneurs to establish training actions [28,31,32,52].
Regarding relational factors (family space), the social models provided by the family setting positively influence the development of a professional career through self-employment [54,55], i.e., coming from a nuclear family with a business link means that the person is introduced little by little into the world of entrepreneurship [28].
With regard to socio-educational factors (a social space and a workplace), on the one hand, these factors are linked to sociological (demographic) aspects, such as age, gender, employment situation, income, civil status, and professional status [56]. On the other hand, they are linked to empowerment in society through education and are directly related to entrepreneurship rates, thereby calling for the inclusion of entrepreneurial competence in educational curricula [3,57,58,59].
Since the study of psychological factors (personal space) began, researchers have aimed to identify the characteristics, attributes, and differentiating features of those people who develop entrepreneurship through two theoretical approaches: Trait theory [9,60,61,62] and the cognitive approach [31,63,64]. The approach of trait theory is based on the assumption that entrepreneurs have different personality traits than that of non-entrepreneurs. In other words, although we know that entrepreneurial behavior is a product of many influences, this theory defends the idea that the people who conduct entrepreneurial activity have a psychological profile that predisposes them to act in an entrepreneurial manner, and thus differentiates them from others. In this research, we seek to determine the characteristics of the personality traits of the entrepreneur. Some of the attributes that usually coincide in the figure of the entrepreneur and that contribute to both setting a firm in motion and its success are: A propensity to assume risk and without any fear of failure, the need for personal self-realization, an internal control/locus of control, a need for autonomy and independence, a proactive personality, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy, among others [61,62,65,66,67].
The cognitive approach of the entrepreneur, in contrast, arises as a response to the limitations of trait theory. Its objective is to explain entrepreneurial behavior through cognitive processes. In other words, it seeks to explain whether entrepreneurs think and process information in different ways than non-entrepreneurs do, and whether those differences could predict which people might start a business. These cognitive aspects are beliefs, values, cognitive styles, and mental processes. Among the most widely studied cognitive aspects in the literature, we highlight the following: Self-efficacy, scripts, style and cognitive heuristics, cognitive maps, motivations, and emotions [63,64,68,69,70,71].
The second research line analyzes some aspects of the antecedents to entrepreneurial intention by centering on entrepreneurial interest; this analysis is based on the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) of Lent et al. [72,73]. SCCT explains the mechanisms through which individuals exercise control over the behaviors involved in the development of their careers. This is especially useful in explaining the initial phases of career decisions, and the vocational behavior of adolescents and young adults immersed in their preparations for access to the world of work [36].
According to SCCT, the development of career goals (career choice process) is conceived as a sequence of interests, intentions, and behaviors that are presented as occupational choices where career intentions arise from the previous training of vocational interests [72]. The interests stimulate the career intentions or choice of goals (the plans of dedicating oneself to a certain activity and to achieve a certain result in the future), which increase the probability of making a career choice behavior (specific actions that mark the entry of the individual into an academic or professional line of work) [74,75]. From this standpoint, interests are defined as early patterns of attraction towards occupational-related activities [76], career intentions or set-choice goals are plans to dedicate oneself to a certain activity, and career choice behaviors are specific actions that mark the entry of the individual into a professional career [36].
The construct of entrepreneurial interest and its consequent impact on the construction of employment projection has typically been studied in adolescence [77,78], a time when the consolidation of professional interests is considered to start. In Spain, Lanero et al. [36] identified a positive and direct effect of entrepreneurial interest in university students on the intention to enter entrepreneurship, and an indirect one on behavior through the mediation of the intention.

1.2. The Current Study

Here, the questions that we raise in this study are motivated by several aspects: An attempt to bring together two main lines of research in the study of entrepreneurial intention; the necessity of improving the field’s knowledge of the individual and contextual processes involved in the development of entrepreneurial initiative among young people; and the scarcity of works with secondary students. Therefore, we will try to answer the following questions: Do young students have a high or a low interest in entrepreneurship? Do these young people, with high or low entrepreneurial interest, perceive their health and quality of life in a different way from non-entrepreneurs? Which aspects do they consider to be more important when engaged in entrepreneurship? Are there differences between them in the motives and perceived difficulties when they evaluate entrepreneurship as their future choice of career?
The objective of this study, in response to the gaps mentioned above in theoretical investigation, proposes, through Principal Component Analysis (PCA), to describe the association in Spanish youth between interest in entrepreneurship, as antecedents to entrepreneurial intention, and the principal variables that influence that intention. PCA has been selected, as it is a widely acknowledged as a dimensionality reduction technique that obtains the best new axes in terms of minimization of the reconstruction error. By applying PCA, an intuitive and informative visualization of the analyzed data is obtained, going one step further than traditional techniques. This study also examined socio-educational (gender, employment situation of parents, training received, and methodology), psychological (internal locus of control, proactive approach, need for achievement, self-efficacy, risk propensity, motivation, and perceived difficulties) and health and quality of life (physical attitude, physical health, corporal satisfaction, and satisfaction with life) variables. The results of this study will contribute to greater knowledge of entrepreneurial intention among young Spanish students and their potential training for business creation.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Design

This investigation is a questionnaire-based transversal descriptive study of a population with a probabilistic sample that forms part of a project coordinated at the national level and developed by the universities of Barcelona, Burgos, Deusto, La Rioja, and Santiago de Compostela and the UNED. In addition, the University Pablo de Olavide de Seville and the University of Valencia assisted with the data collection activities.

2.2. Participants and Procedure

The study population was composed of 15 to 18 years old secondary education students enrolled in teaching centers in Spain. The sampling size, 1764 students, was calculated at a confidence level of 95% and with an error margin of 2.3% on the basis of data contributed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports for the academic year 2010–2011.
Simple random sampling was used, and the set proportions were conserved in each of the Autonomous Regions, and at each of the general tiers of education (67% of students from pre-university high school studies; 32.7% of students from intermediate vocational training cycles; and 10.3% from basic vocational training). The last sampling units were selected during the 2013–14 academic year by selecting educational centers at random from each autonomous region on the basis of two criteria: Selection of a rural center in each autonomous region and a proportion of one private state assisted center for every three public educational centers. The questionnaire was administered in a single session at each one of the selected centers to the number of students necessary to cover the sampling quota. This field work was developed during the months of March and June 2014. By employing data from this year, we are able to collect comparable data on students following the same educational law that was existing in Spain from 2006 to 2014. A new legislation was introduced the following year, although the complete implementation is expected to conclude in 2020. Prior to the application of the instruments, permission was requested from both the General Directorate of Education of each autonomous region and the directors of the educational centers, once they were informed of the rationale behind the research. Two previously trained researchers assisted in person at each center for the administration of the questionnaire in order to ensure a duly standardized protocol of action. Women comprised 50.1% of the sample (n = 885) and men 49.9% (n = 879). The average age was 17.6 years (SD = 1.60) and 89.6% of the sample were of Spanish nationality (n = 1581).
The present study was funded by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and the European Regional Development Fund (Spain), which requires no ethics committee approvals for studies in the field of social and legal sciences.

2.3. Measures

The questionnaire was divided into various thematic sections due to the different interests of each of the collaborating universities: Students; life at the educational center; leisure time; family life; health and quality of life; studies and the employment market in the future; and entrepreneurship.
A pilot test in eight Autonomous Regions was completed to validate the questionnaire, establishing the stratification of the final sample and its proportionality as criteria. The number of questionnaires amounted to 10% of the subsequent sample. The pilot survey and results were then evaluated by 14 experts from seven Spanish universities, who approved the definitive version and rated it as highly reliable.
In pursuit of our objective, we analyzed the thematic sections relating to sociodemographic information, interest in entrepreneurship, and variables relating to health and quality of life, as well as psychological, educational, and occupational variables. In particular, the following questions were analyzed:
Q.1–Q.10, information was gathered on sex; year of birth; number of people living in the house; family situation; family relation; country of origin of father, mother, and student; post code; weekly allowance; level of studies; and employment of father and mother (family and demographic variables from thematic section “Students” in the questionnaire).
Q.36, gathered information on health and current quality of life (health variable from thematic section “Health and Quality of Life” in the questionnaire). This variable was measured using a 5-point Likert Scale.
Q.37, gathered information on situations in which studying helps and situations in which working helps (psychological variable from the thematic section “Studies and Employment Market” in the questionnaire). This variable was measured using a 5-point Likert Scale.
Q.38, gathered information on the most important aspects for entrepreneurship (psychological variable from the thematic section “Entrepreneurship”). This variable was measured through the selection of the three most important aspects.
Q.40, gathered information on the degree of interest in entrepreneurship (psychological variable from thematic section “Entrepreneurship”). This variable was measured using a 5-point Likert Scale.
Q.42, gathered information on the motives for creating a firm (psychological variable from the thematic section “Entrepreneurship”). This variable was measured through the selection of the three most important motives.
Q.43, gathered information on the difficulties of creating a firm (psychological variable from the thematic section “Entrepreneurship”). This variable was measured through the selection of the three most important difficulties.
Q.44, gathered information on the presence of different methodologies and capabilities in training (psychological variable from the thematic section “Entrepreneurship”). This variable was measured using a 5-point Likert-type scale.

2.4. Data Analysis

After selecting the questionnaire questions, a code was used to identify each item, thereby leaving a set of 1633 items and 92 features per item.
In order to analyze such a multidimensional dataset, PCA was been applied. This statistical method of data analysis is based on re-dimensioning the data (reducing the number of features); in other words, the end-purpose is to reduce the amount of features in a dataset with multiple features, seeking to minimize the loss of information, as far as possible, for the new data. Compared to feature selection techniques, where the most informative features from the original dataset are selected, PCA lies in the category of feature extraction, where original features are combined to generate a reduced set of new features.
In the case of PCA, the new features (principal components) obtained from that re-dimensioning are the result of a linear combination of the original variables and, in turn, will be independent from each other. In present paper, every item in the dataset is visualized through a 2D display where the coordinates are the principal components. Thus, the obtained representation can be visually analyzed in order to get deep knowledge from a previously unknown dataset. This is the usual methodology in the field of Exploratory Projection Pursuit.
PCA was initially developed by Pearson [79] at the start of the 20th century and then studied and further developed by Hotelling [80]. PCA has two possible functions: The optimal projections of a general N-dimensional space onto a space of reduced dimensionality (the principal components are the first step to identify the possible latent or non-observed variables that generate the data) and it permits the transformation of the original and generally correlated variables into new uncorrelated variables, facilitating the interpretation of the data. If one begins with a set of multivariable data, the end purpose is to map that set onto a smaller number of variables, in decreasing order of importance and with minimal loss of information, in such a way that the resulting variables are a linear combination of the original variables and independent from each other.
The orthogonal base that maximizes the variance of the data must be found in order to project the data onto a space of reduced dimensionality. To do so, it is necessary to establish the projection that has the maximum variance, which will correspond to the first vector of the base (first principal component). Subsequently, one must determine the projection that contains the highest remaining variance, which will correspond to the second vector of the base (second principal component), and so on successively. Projecting the data onto the first principal component will reduce the dimensionality that will be accompanied by as much variance in the data as possible.
According to Bishop [81], PCA may be described as a map of vectors, Xd, projected onto an N-dimensional space on vectors Yd in an M-dimensional space, where M < = N. X may be represented as a linear combination of a set of N orthonormal vectors, Wi:
x = i = 1 N y i × W i
The Wi vectors satisfy the following relation of orthonormality:
W i t × W j = δ i j
where, δij is the Kronecker delta.

3. Results

The questionnaire data were analyzed with PCA and the obtained projections is shown in Figure 2, where each point is a representation of one of the 1633 cases with their original 92 features. In the analysis of the image, groups of data can be easily identified, and they have been labelled consecutively (Figure 2).
For each one of the groups identified in Figure 2, the average value of responses to question Q.40 referring to the degree of the respondents’ entrepreneurial interest has been calculated as well as the number of participants that are gathered in each group. These figures are shown in Table 1:
The data revealed two large groups: One with significant interest (high entrepreneurial interest group; M = 3.10) and another with little entrepreneurial interest (low entrepreneurial interest group; M = 1.59) (see Table 2). The scores for the low entrepreneurial interest group ranged between 0 and 2.5, and those of the high entrepreneurial interest group between 2.6 and 5.
Considering that group 4.3 represented the remainder of points not found in any PCA group (1462 students) and therefore had low scores for entrepreneurial interest, it could be considered that 61 (3.8%) students of the whole sample presented high levels of entrepreneurial interest and 1547 (96.2%) students presented low levels of entrepreneurial interest.
Having arranged the groups in accordance with the PCA projections and the scores for the entrepreneurial interest variable, each group was characterized in accordance with the responses to the questions that were introduced to constitute the unit of analysis. The results shown in Table 3 were obtained from the first block of questions, referring to the data profile (Q.1–Q.10) of the students in the survey.
Both the high and low entrepreneurial interest groups were composed mostly of men (62% and 59%, respectively), though the group with low entrepreneurial interest was more balanced between men and women. In most cases, the parents of the members of both groups were educated up to secondary studies. The parents of the group with high entrepreneurial interest were showed a higher number of self-employed (37%), whereas the parents of the low entrepreneurial interest group were generally employees (50%). The mothers of the high entrepreneurial interest group were in equal percentages either unemployed or housewives, whereas the mothers of the low entrepreneurial interest group were principally working as employees.
The average scores obtained by the PCA groups in the block of questions (P.36) referring to health and quality of life (Figure 3) showed that the members of the group with higher entrepreneurial interest were more satisfied with their health and quality of life. In particular, they obtained higher scores in a “Good state of health at present” (M = 4.15), “Satisfaction with bodily appearance” (M = 3.64), and “Good physical form” (M = 3.57). In addition, they considered themselves to be physically active (M = 3.45) and, in general, they were happy with their lives (4.08), in contrast to the remarkably low scores of the group with low entrepreneurial interest (1.76) in response to this last question (“In general, I am happy with my life”). On the other hand, the only variable where both groups scored in a similar way, above the average, was in contentment with their bodily appearance, i.e., the students from post-compulsory secondary education in this sample were content with their bodies.
With regard to the ways in which studying and working will help in the future (Q.37) (Figure 4), the high entrepreneurial interest group had high scores in all of the questions, over 3.84 points, whereas the low entrepreneurial interest group returned lower scores (under 2) in all the questions under study. The sole exception where the high entrepreneurial interest group obtained a low score (M = 1.83) that coincided with the low entrepreneurial interest group (M = 1.68) was in reply to the question “I prefer to look for work than to continue studying.” This result means that both groups preferred to continue studying, instead of looking for work at the time of the survey. All the questions for this variable were related to the Internal Locus of Control (ILC): A belief that the actions that one is doing will determine the results that are obtained through the abilities, effort, and skills that a person holds, and not so much the actions that others carry out [82].
In question Q.38, participants were asked to choose the three aspects that they considered the most important for entrepreneurship (Figure 5). The high entrepreneurial interest groups considered “Improve your professional development” (69%), “Generate new jobs” (59%), and “Detect business opportunities” (57%) as the most important aspects, whereas the low entrepreneurial interest group chose “Detect business opportunities” (59%), “Improve professional development” (47%), and “Assume some risk” (44%). Therefore, both groups coincided in pointing to the detection of business opportunities (an aspect related to proactive personality) and improving professional development (a characteristic related to the need for achievement) as important aspects when engaging in entrepreneurship.
The results of the questions on motivation (Q.42) and difficulties (Q.43) for entrepreneurship are shown in Figure 6 and Figure 7, respectively. The principal motives for the high entrepreneurial interest group were “Put my ideas into practice” (72%), “Economic independence” (49%), and “Generate work for others” (49%), whereas the low entrepreneurial interest group chose “Earn money” (49%), “Put my ideas into practice” (46%), and “Economic independence” (38%). Both groups coincided (with different percentages) in pointing out “Putting into practice my ideas” (related with the intrinsic motivation) and “Economic independence” (associated with extrinsic and autonomous motivation) as principal motivations for entrepreneurship. Interestingly, students with high entrepreneurial interest highlighted job creation as both an important aspect and as a motive for entrepreneurship (an aspect related to the necessity for achievement and self-efficacy).
The difficulties perceived for both the high and the low entrepreneurial interest students (with different percentages of choice), were, from 1st place to 3rd place, “Lack of money to initiate the activity”, “Assume risks”, and “Fear of failure” (see Figure 7).
Figure 8 shows the scores for the replies to the questions in section Q.44 that referred to the effects that various methodological aspects (meth.) and capabilities (cap.) had on the training of the people in the survey. The group with high entrepreneurial interest presented higher scores in all of the variables under study, with average scores of over 3.51, whereas the group with low entrepreneurial interest obtained low scores in all the variables, not exceeding an average of 1.93.
It is worth mentioning that we aimed to triangulate the data in order to minimize any potential bias and avoid errors. For this reason, we also conducted three discussion groups as a useful technique to obtain participants´ information in a semi-structured way, whose purpose is to provoke an intense debate among people representatives who are part of the discussion group. The incorporation of this technique aims to identify the main problems related to entrepreneurship, to be aware of the different group’s point of view and interests and to perform a prospective approach on medium and long-term trends related to entrepreneurship. The results of these discussion groups were largely in line with the results shown in the empirical analyses.

4. Discussion

The objective of this investigation was to examine entrepreneurial interest among Spanish youth, various socio-educational, psychological, and health-related variables as direct antecedents of entrepreneurial intention.
In the study on socio-educational variables, higher levels of entrepreneurial interest were found among men than women, in harmony with national and international investigations that showed higher entrepreneurial aspirations among male students [83,84,85].
Additionally, students with high entrepreneurial interest have parents who are mainly self-employed workers, in accordance with the scientific literature in which the family background is studied and one of the parents is an entrepreneur, with a more attractive perception of entrepreneurship as a professional career [31,39,59,86,87].
With regards to training, participants with high entrepreneurship interest emphasized the relevance of greater training in different learning strategies and capabilities related to entrepreneurship. In fact, previous studies have shown that entrepreneurial training generates a positive effect on the perceived desire towards entrepreneurship [3,59,88]. Such training stimulates the development of entrepreneurial behavior, increases the knowledge of creating and managing firms, promotes the personal characteristics associated with entrepreneurship, such as motivation to achieve, ILC, and self-efficacy, and raises student awareness of the viability of self-employed entrepreneurship as a professional career [1,18].
With regards to the psychological variables, one principal variable is the ILC, measured in this study through the importance that study and work has in the future. In all the aspects of this dimension, the students with high entrepreneurial interest scored more highly. These students therefore tend to attribute the success or failure of their behavior to internal causes [89,90]. The investigations point to the ILC as a characteristic that is strongly associated with entrepreneurs, although not exclusively so, given that it is also found in people who are successful whether or not they are entrepreneurs [91,92].
Other dimensions found in students with high entrepreneurial interest are a proactive approach (they consider it important for entrepreneurs to identify business opportunities) and the need for achievement (they consider that entrepreneurship helps them to improve their professional development). In this regard, the scientific literature makes it quite clear that the need to achieve is an attribute related to entrepreneurial intention. Fuentes et al. [93] pointed out that students who express a great need for achievement, express an interest in assuming tasks that offer a challenge and that test their capabilities, a situation that is transposed into an attitudinal lifestyle through the creation of their own business [89]. Proactivity is another of the indispensable factors that Covin et al. [94] included in the so-called entrepreneurial orientation, in reference to the implementation of what was necessary for entrepreneurship, which implies perseverance, adaptability, and a willingness to assume responsibility for failure [33].
With regard to the principal motivations to create a business, the students with high entrepreneurial interest pointed to aspects relating as much to intrinsic (putting their ideas into practice) as to extrinsic (economic independence) motivations. Many of the works on the analysis of the reasons for career choice linked to business initiatives [95] have found that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are important for predicting entrepreneurial intention and behavior. Likewise, these motivations are related to autonomy and independence, important reasons that lead to entrepreneurship [93].
Notably, students with high entrepreneurial interest coincided in considering that the capability to create employment for others is important and motivates them to be entrepreneurs. This last dimension is the most potent predictor of the completion of a task or behavior. Various authors have provided evidence that identifies self-efficacy as a crucial factor in whether an individual manages to develop entrepreneurial capability [37,38,96,97].
Another question studied in this investigation is the perceived difficulty of creating a firm. All the students pointed to a lack of money to initiate the activity, having to assume risks, and the fear of failure (these last two aspects are highly related). With regard to the first difficulty, the literature insistently repeats that the achievement of the necessary economic resources for the establishment of a firm is, effectively, one of the principal obstacles to entrepreneurship [28,98].
In relation to risk and the fear of failure, although entrepreneurial intention is related to moderate levels of a propensity toward risk as a personality trait [46,99], our results show it as a challenge. On this point, García et al. [60] argued that the fear of business failure puts a significant brake on the opening of new businesses. It would be convenient to investigate whether these students with high entrepreneurial interest have within their personality profiles a certain propensity toward risk, regardless of whether they assess the fact of having to assume risks as a difficulty.
Finally, with regard to the health and quality of life variable, greater satisfaction was observed in all of the aspects analyzed by the students with high entrepreneurial interest. In other words, participants with high entrepreneurial interest tend to be in a good state of health, in good physical form, physically active, very satisfied with their bodily appearance, and very content with their lives. Few authors [31] have pointed to the importance of managing emotions, as difficulty with these emotions negatively affects entrepreneurial attitudes and consequently entrepreneurial intention. Further, Rodríguez et al. [33] found that Colombian students considered that entrepreneurship meant they were able to achieve the values related to a good quality of life, as opposed to French students, who considered entrepreneurship of no help in acquiring a good quality of life.

5. Conclusions

Out of a necessity to advance our knowledge of both the individual and contextual processes through which entrepreneurial intention develops in young people, and with a view to achieve greater efficiency in the availability of supporting resources through education, PCA analysis was applied to the study of entrepreneurial interest and social, educational, and psychological variables as antecedents to entrepreneurial intention.
Young people who express a high interest in entrepreneurship as a vocational choice were a low percentage of the total population under study. These results, together with young people are among those most affected by the crisis and imbalance of the economic system, and that they are frequently unaware of the opportunities offered by entrepreneurship make it urgent to take measures, first of all, educational. In addition, they were mostly men with an earlier family tradition of entrepreneurship. They can be characterized as students with high perceptions of their health and quality of life, attaching importance to the capability to create employment for others (need for achievement and self-efficacy) and seeing it as a motivation for entrepreneurial action. They considered that to be able to create a firm, a business opportunity (proactivity) must be previously detected, and their principal motivations to do so are “to improve their professional development”, “to put their ideas into practice”, and “to achieve economic independence” (intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, autonomy, and independence). The principal difficulties perceived when engaged in entrepreneurship were “lack of money to initiate the activity”, “having to assume risks”, and “the fear of failure”. Finally, it may be added that these students had received training in different strategies of learning and the capabilities related to entrepreneurship.
ILC, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, searching for and identifying opportunities, self-efficacy, a positive attitude towards the entrepreneurial behavior needed for self-sufficiency, independence, a need to achieve (self-fulfillment), family entrepreneurs, and training in entrepreneurial skills are all positively associated with entrepreneurial intentions in surveys of Spanish youth [60,61,89,91,99,100].
Consequently, these results reveal the importance of early detection of entrepreneurial interests among secondary school students so that they can be reinforced as potential business initiatives in the long term. Similarly, with this study we respond to demands that authors like Liñan and Chen [26] the need for cross-cultural studies to assess the effect of different cultures and values on the entrepreneurial intention to be better understood. Further, this paper contributes to the literature by untangling the different social, educational, and psychological as well as entrepreneurial interest main pre-existing characteristics in a sample of young people in Spain. Besides, another contribution lies in the finding of the simultaneous relevance of health related aspects and entrepreneurial interest, a domain that has not received a lot of attention yet in the literature. As a final contribution of this work, the utility of PCA has to be highlighted as well as its application in investigations of a social character [80,81] as it yields patterns that deserve in-depth study and permit decision-making.
By unveiling the relevance of the internal locus of control, motivation, need for achievement, the search and identification of opportunities, autonomy and independence and self-efficacy, the results of the paper have important implications for multiple actors in charge of the sustainability of youth entrepreneurship in Spain. First, policy-makers such as the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and also the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport should take these results into consideration when designing and implementing programs to detect and support from an early stage entrepreneurial interest among students. In order to fully reap the expected benefits, such programs should also include a suitable training for teachers in which these capabilities are emphasized. In fact, the results highlight that training at school might not be enough, and instead suggest that learning should take place across boundaries and with interrelations with other agents in the society such as the family and professional associations. Further, universities should collaborate with commerce chambers, clusters, and professional networks in order to create sustainable opportunities for young people to overcome some of the challenges identified in this paper. For instance, these agents can promote the creation of incubators and institutions that facilitate access to funding (business angels, crowdsourcing, etc.)
One of the limitations of this work are related to the cross-sectional nature of the study, since the causal relation between the variables under study and entrepreneurial interest cannot be detected. Therefore, in a future investigation, longitudinal designs are proposed in which evidence might be unearthed regarding the relations between the variables in the context of the effects that are identified. Another limitation is related to the year of data collection. In this case, future studies could also analyze students following the new educational law passed in 2014 and implemented in the subsequent years, in order to compare the results between different cohorts of students and the effectiveness of the new legislation. Further, the single-item nature of the measures also constitutes a significant shortcoming of the questionnaire. Despite the validity and reliability of the questionnaire was confirmed through a pilot test conducted in eight autonomous communities of Spain, and evaluated by 14 experts belonging to seven Spanish universities and its reliability has been contrasted in previous studies using this same questionnaire, it would be advisable to corroborate the results employing other alternative measures. Finally, future studies could also employ additional techniques such as cluster analysis or linear regression to enlarge the findings and address additional research questions.
Despite the aforementioned limitations, we believe our paper contributes to the rapidly evolving field of entrepreneurial intention. However, we also believe that more effort is needed to theoretically and empirically develop this construct. We hope our paper encourages other researchers to conduct further studies, and enlarge our understanding of this fascinating topic.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.C.E.-L. and I.L.-R.; methodology, M.C.E.-L. and I.L.-R.; software, A.H.; validation, C.P.-C., A.J.-E. and T.d.l.T.-C.; formal analysis, A.H.; investigation, M.C.E.-L., T.d.l.T.-C. and I.L.-R.; resources, A.J.-E. and C.P.-C.; data curation, I.L.-R.; writing—original draft preparation, M.C.E.-L.; writing—review and editing, A.J., T.d.l.T.-C.; visualization, M.C.E.-L., I.L.-R, A.H. and A.J.; supervision, A.J., T.d.l.T.-C.; project administration, A.J.-E.; funding acquisition, C.P.-C.


This research was funded by MINISTRY OF ECONOMY AND COMPETITIVENESS. GOVERNMENT OF SPAIN, grant number EDU 2012-39080-C07-00 a 07.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Factors influencing entrepreneurial intention, grouped according to the model of Sonnenfelt et al. [53].
Figure 1. Factors influencing entrepreneurial intention, grouped according to the model of Sonnenfelt et al. [53].
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Figure 2. Results of the PCA analysis of the data.
Figure 2. Results of the PCA analysis of the data.
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Figure 3. Average scores referring to the health and quality of life of young people.
Figure 3. Average scores referring to the health and quality of life of young people.
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Figure 4. Average scores referring to the helpfulness of studying and working in the future.
Figure 4. Average scores referring to the helpfulness of studying and working in the future.
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Figure 5. Percentage choices of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship.
Figure 5. Percentage choices of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship.
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Figure 6. Percentage choices by groups for motivations for entrepreneurship.
Figure 6. Percentage choices by groups for motivations for entrepreneurship.
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Figure 7. Percentage choices of reasons for perceived difficulties of entrepreneurship.
Figure 7. Percentage choices of reasons for perceived difficulties of entrepreneurship.
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Figure 8. Average scores for the presence that different aspects had on.
Figure 8. Average scores for the presence that different aspects had on.
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Table 1. Average scores of entrepreneurial interest and number of participants per group.
Table 1. Average scores of entrepreneurial interest and number of participants per group.
PCA GroupAverage Entrepreneurial InterestNumber of Participants
1.3 a125
4.3 b2.530
Total number of participants 171
a The data extracted from group 1.3 are excluded from the results of this study because the 25 participants presented invalid replies in the majority of the variables under study. b Group 4.3, because of its position on the map, would represent the remainder of the participants (1462 participants) who were not included in any of the groups obtained with PCA.
Table 2. Representation of the average scores in entrepreneurial interest according to the PCA projection groupings.
Table 2. Representation of the average scores in entrepreneurial interest according to the PCA projection groupings.
PCA GroupAverage Entrepreneurial InterestNumber of ParticipantsAverage Global Entrepreneurial Interest of the PCA GroupsTotal Number of Participants in the PCA Groups (146 Students)
High entrepreneurial interest groups a4.13.228
3.1061 (41.8%)
Low entrepreneurial interest groups4.32.530
1.5985 (58.2%)
a If Figure 1. is observed, the arrangement of the PCA groups with high entrepreneurial interest forms an open U on the left hand side, i.e., surrounding the principal point cloud.
Table 3. Percentages of all student survey responses by demographics.
Table 3. Percentages of all student survey responses by demographics.
High Entrepreneurial Interest GroupLow Entrepreneurial Interest Group
Education of parentsNone12%2%
Higher 16%3%
Education of motherNone6%3%
Employment of fatherEmployment contract12%45%
House husband0%0%
Employment of motherEmployment contract23%50%
House wife27%0%

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Escolar-Llamazares, M.C.; Luis-Rico, I.; de la Torre-Cruz, T.; Herrero, Á.; Jiménez, A.; Palmero-Cámara, C.; Jiménez-Eguizábal, A. The Socio-educational, Psychological and Family-Related Antecedents of Entrepreneurial Intentions among Spanish Youth. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1252.

AMA Style

Escolar-Llamazares MC, Luis-Rico I, de la Torre-Cruz T, Herrero Á, Jiménez A, Palmero-Cámara C, Jiménez-Eguizábal A. The Socio-educational, Psychological and Family-Related Antecedents of Entrepreneurial Intentions among Spanish Youth. Sustainability. 2019; 11(5):1252.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Escolar-Llamazares, M. Camino, Isabel Luis-Rico, Tamara de la Torre-Cruz, Álvaro Herrero, Alfredo Jiménez, Carmen Palmero-Cámara, and Alfredo Jiménez-Eguizábal. 2019. "The Socio-educational, Psychological and Family-Related Antecedents of Entrepreneurial Intentions among Spanish Youth" Sustainability 11, no. 5: 1252.

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