Role model interventions to motivate students to consider entrepreneurship as a career

Keane, Paul (2020) Role model interventions to motivate students to consider entrepreneurship as a career.


This thesis presents the findings of a mixed-methods research design used to examine if there
is a link between role model influence and entrepreneurial intent. This research was undertaken
by applying mixed-methods research in the researcher’s own Higher Education Institute (HEI)
organisation. Eighty-two fourth-year Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering students (male
= 73, Female = 9) with an average age of 22.7 years (SD =3.3) consented to participate in the
study. The study consisted of an initial investigation phase, a series of lectures by five
entrepreneurs (role model intervention), and an evaluation phase, to determine if the
entrepreneurs influenced students’ entrepreneurial intent. The lectures were given by
entrepreneurs at different stages of their entrepreneurial journeys from fields such as
construction, financial services, biomedical devices, and agricultural technology. This research
makes a major contribution to knowledge by testing the motivation theory of role modelling
(Morgenroth et al., 2015) in an entrepreneurship context. The findings offer new insights into
our understanding of the mechanisms involved in role model entrepreneurial motivation,
indicating that role model interventions can influence entrepreneurial intent by increasing
expectancy of success and the rewards of entrepreneurial success. The study is unique as it uses
role model interventions to motivate students while other studies investigate role models
already present in a students’ network without introducing new role models. This research
contributes to practice by presenting a practical framework for guiding the role model
intervention process and a questionnaire to measure the effectiveness of those interventions.
This research can be useful for those involved in motivating individuals to consider
entrepreneurship, those involved in career guidance and development, and those developing
policies to promote entrepreneurship.

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