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Benjamin Powers

DBA Graduate - 2017

Thesis title

A Study of the Relationship among Personal-Level Variables, Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy, and Entrepreneurial Intention: The Case of Male and Female Adolescents with Dyslexia


Severine Le Loarne

Benjamin Powers is the headmaster of Eagle Hill Southport School, an independent day school in Connecticut for students with dyslexia and ADHD. He also co-chairs the Dyslexia Foundation’s Academic Center for Excellence, is an advisory board member at the Jemicy School, and is an honorary board member of Smart Kids with LD. He speaks regularly on topics related to dyslexia, ADHD,  entrepreneurship, and leadership.

Purpose This research aims to investigate the impact low self-esteem has on entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions and intention, specifically for adolescents with dyslexia, and how to create a model for entrepreneurship education to improve self-efficacy perceptions and intention. Design/methodology/approach Using an updated model of Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior (1991), perceived behavioral control is broken down into two constructs: perceived controllability and perceived self-efficacy. A modified version of Kickul and D’Intino’s (2004) measure of entrepreneurial self-efficacy and intention for adolescents was used, and results from 796 students, both with and without learning disabilities, from independent schools were analyzed to determine differences in entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions, intention, and behavior.Findings Findings validated the relationship between entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions, intention, and behavior, confirmed that adolescent students with dyslexia have lower self-efficacy perceptions, and showed the strong level of interest among all students in considering entrepreneurship as a career choice. Findings also showed a difference in entrepreneurial intention for males with dyslexia, and females with and without dyslexia similarly rated their entrepreneurial intentions. Partial support for the mediating role that entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions can play between having dyslexia and entrepreneurial intention was also observed. Research limitations/implications Individuals’ backgrounds influence entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions and intentions, and this factor especially influences self-esteem. I suggest updating Ajzen’s (1991) Theory of Planned Behavior along with a proposed model for investigating the relationship between self-esteem, entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions, and intention. Suggestions for future research include examining other populations with low self-esteem, why female entrepreneurial intentions were not impacted by having dyslexia, and why there is an overrepresentation of entrepreneurs with dyslexia, in spite of lower entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions and intention. Practical implications Findings support the need for policymakers and practitioners to consider to whom student entrepreneurship education courses are targeted. Practical suggestions and a model for targeted entrepreneurship education for students with dyslexia are provided. Social implications The research supports the need to consider the differences that exist in different populations, like people with disabilities or in low socioeconomic circumstances, and therefore, should stimulate a larger conversation on disenfranchised communities.Originality/value This is the first paper to investigate the impact dyslexia has on entrepreneurial self-efficacy perceptions and intention. Its offers recommendations for how schools with students with dyslexia can create a more effective entrepreneurship education curriculum. Keywords entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurial intention, self-efficacy, self-esteem, dyslexia