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The role of subjective norms in developing entrepreneurial intentions in university students

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Enabling and encouraging entrepreneurial activity has long been of interest to scholars and practitioners. Previous research is partly based on the theory of planned behavior. This research has consistently shown that personal attitudes and perceived behavioral control are correlated with entrepreneurial intentions. However, previous findings have found the relationship between subjective norms and entrepreneurial intentions to be inconsistent. This paper proposes a resolution to these discrepancies and tests these hypotheses in a university setting.


Using nearly 1,000 student survey responses, this paper uses an inter subject linear regression model to test elements of the theory of planned behavior that have been inconsistent in the literature.


This paper finds that personal attitudes and perceived behavioral control mediate or partially mediate the relationships between subjective norms and entrepreneurial intentions. Extension for theory development and practice are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

While very insightful, this paper is limited by the use of a within-subjects survey research design and the inherent limitations with such research. Additionally, using college students as respondents limits the ability to generalize the results to any population outside similar college-age populations.


This paper provides a unique test of a set of controversial findings in research on the theory of planned behavior. Identifying unique mediators between social norms and entrepreneurial intentions expands this theory and provides fertile opportunities for future research.


Anderson, J.R. (2023), “The role of subjective norms in developing entrepreneurial intentions in university students”, Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. The original source has more references