Self-efficacy, desirability, feasibility… key concepts for entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship and Innovation pole of the Ecole Polytechnique-Bâtiment La fibre Entrepreneur. J. Barande/École Polytechnique/Flickr, CC BY

During the 1970s and 1980s, the American psychologist Albert Bandura helped establish the principles of social cognitive theory. His theory places the individual at the heart of the interactions between cognitive, behavioural and contextual factors. In this context, the social subjects are at the same time the producers and the products of their environment. The social cognitive approach, also called the cognitive social psychology, “is based on the postulate in which cognition is social, with the sense where the entire production process – of knowledge is intrinsically, inevitably and deeply social” (Lauriol, J. 1996).

The contribution of Bandura and socio-cognitive theory

Bandura showed that not only the sense of competence but also the belief to be able to implement a target behaviour, constitute a powerful attitude which leads to human decision making and it then introduced the concept of self-efficacy (1992).

The self-efficacy is the sense of its own competence that is meaning the belief which we can make something of specific (Bandura, 1997, 2001). It is the faith of a subject in its own capacity to effectively achieve certain activities and responsibilities (Chen and al., 1998; Markman and Baron, 2001). It is also the conviction one’s individual has about itself to be able to organize and to carry out the actions necessary to the achievement of a goal. (Bandura, 1997, quoted by Karsenti, Larose, 2001). The concept of self-efficacy (like that of locus of internal control concept), is also a crucial variable for the process of Resilience.

Self-efficacy and entrepreneurship

In 1994, Boydet Vozikis proposed the idea that the self-efficacy plays a significant role in the development of the intentions and of the entrepreneurial actions. The same year, Krueger and Brazeal proposed the idea that the self-efficacy makes it possible to consider the entrepreneurial potential. If we more precisely examine the works, which were thus undertaken to study the role that the self-efficacy in the study of Entrepreneurship can play, the results were the following:

  • the self-efficacy is a determining cognitive variable in the evaluation of the entrepreneurial behaviour (Levander and Racuia, 2001).

  • the self-efficacy is fundamental to begin entrepreneurial activities (Markman and Baron, 2001).

The entrepreneurial self-efficacy is the perception of the confidence of the entrepreneurs in themselves in their own entrepreneurial capacities, before they are laid out to launch out in the business (Bandura, 1986). The perception of the self-efficacy is an essential antecedent of perceived opportunity (Krueger and Dickson, 1994). The perception of the self-efficacy is an essential antecedent of perceived opportunity (Krueger and Dickson, 1994).

The individuals having a high feeling of self-efficacy regard the situations as realizable opportunities,(Bandura 2001). The entrepreneurs compared to the not-entrepreneurs have a strong feeling of control of their future (Brockhaus, Horwitz, 1986). The concept of entrepreneurial optimism is related to the belief in the efficacy (Krueger and Dickson, 1994; Krueger and Brazeal, 1994).

Feeling of personal effectiveness and need for accomplishment

The people who have a weak FPE (“feeling of personal efficacy”) in a particular field, avoid the difficult tasks that they perceive like threatening. They express low levels of aspiration and an implication reduced compared to the goals which they chose to reach. Confronted with difficulties, these people stumble on their potential personal failures, the obstacles and the negative consequences of their acts rather than to concentrate on the way of getting a more satisfactory result. They tend to decrease their efforts and are discouraged quickly face to the difficulties.

They are slower to find their sense of the efficacy after a failure. They consider an unsatisfactory result as the mark of a deficiency of aptitude and the least failure are likely to start their own conviction in their capacities. The plurality of these characteristics minimizes the achievement appropriatenesses and exposes the individual to the stress and the depression. The question of the feeling of self- efficacy is thus in this form a determining factor, for an individual who wants to give again a new dash with his life. On the contrary, a high FPE reinforces the needs for achievement and the personal wellness in several ways.

The people with a strong insurance concerning their capacities in a particular field regard the difficulties as challenges to take up rather than like threats to be avoided.

These individuals set stimulative goals and maintain a strong commitment to reach them. They increase and maintain their efforts face to the difficulties and thus quickly recover their direction of the effectiveness after a failure or a delay. The failure is regarded as due to insufficient efforts or a lack of knowledge or know-how which can be acquired. The threatening situations are approximate here with insurance, because the individuals estimate to exert a control on those. This whole of characteristics of self-efficacy supports the personal achievements reduced the stress and the vulnerability. There we join precisely the problems of Impact strength. The resilient people forged their feeling of personal effectiveness through the tests and develop precisely, the capacity to preserve the course to achieve the fundamental goals, without never slackening their attention, even if sometimes moments of discouragement can be felt.

The transition to entrepreneurial action

This work highlights that to have a feeling of self-efficacy the recognition of opportunities in the entrepreneur supports. The choice to create will be done according to three elements:

  • Perceptions of desirability: They represent the degree of personal attraction to create its company. The beliefs of desirability are double. They understand the beliefs relating to the consequences of the creation of a company on the one hand and the beliefs relating to social environment on the other hand (Ajzen, 1991, Shapero and Sokol, 1982); the notion of the desirability is very interesting for the issue of resilience, because indeed it is perfectly articulated with the reconquest of self-esteem.

  • Perceptions of feasibility: They reflect the degree of the individual’s belief in the fact that it is personally able to create an organization.

  • The propensity to act: Shapero conceives “propensity to act” like a personal provision to act according to its own decisions. Thus, propensity to act reflects the component deliberated on the intention. Conceptually, this propensity depends on perceptions of control of the consequences of its behaviour on the environment and the context. This concept which is at the heart of the intention also seems likely to nourish the reconstruction process, that requires new talents acquired by the resilient entrepreneur, who lived heavy situations. A character as Steve Jobs incarnates this concept perfectly.

These notions have their place in a shared entrepreneurial culture development approach and in the way to bring out and reinforce these major qualities among the younger generations.

This article was originally published in French