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The IUP Journal of Entrepreneurship Development :
Career Intention of Undergraduate Students: An Application of Theory of Planned Behavior
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Starting own business versus a paid employment is an important decision many individuals face. These individual decisions have important implications for the economy as a whole. Entrepreneurial activities are widely recognized as creating wealth and hence generating more employment opportunities. Therefore, entrepreneurship promotion is advocated for the developing countries as a means of achieving higher growth. When it comes to paid employments, the decision further involves choosing between the public sector and the private sector since these sectors offer different work environments, benefit packages, and altogether different challenges. Developing countries absorb a very high percentage of the labor force to the public sector which has become a burden to the citizens of those countries. Hence, governments in developing countries are pressed for a smaller public sector. On the other hand, private sector is widely proven to be more productive than the public sector. A growing private sector is essential for the growth and development of a country. All in all, an individual’s decision to startup business, or assuming a paid career either in the public sector or the private sector has many important implications for economies. Therefore, it is imperative to understand how individuals form this decision.

University education strives to equip individuals with knowledge, skill and attitude necessary for graduates to shape up their future careers. It is important that universities offer their degree programs to match with the developmental requirements of the country and job market demands. An individual’s preference to work under someone as opposed to being one’s own boss is shaped by one’s attitude towards those careers, one’s perception of other people’s attitudes towards those careers, and also one’s understanding of his/her ability to fulfill situational contexts and job demands successfully. There is rich literature on the entrepreneurial intention of individuals and environmental and psychological factors influencing entrepreneurial intention as the intention is understood as a strong predecessor of behavior. Ajzen (1991) proposed the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to model the relationship between psychological factors and intention to perform a behavior by an individual. Since then, there has been a wide application of this theory in understanding the motivational factors affecting entrepreneurial intention. However, the present paper proposes that entrepreneurial intention should be studied in the broader context of career intentions. Hence, TPB is applied to understand if the intention of undergraduate students to work in the public sector, private sector or start their own businesses can be predicted by their attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioral controls in the Sri Lankan context. Further, the paper also examines if the degree program has been instrumental in changing the career preference of students.

 
 
 

Entrepreneurship is critical to the development and wellbeing of an economy, contributing significantly to job creation. In addition to creation of employment opportunities, it leads to an increase in the technical innovation required for new business creation. As a result of innovation, a virtuous circle is created among people’s income, people’s spending, tax collections and government spending. Thus, a healthy entrepreneurship can be agreed upon as a major contributing factor for economic growth. According to a survey report by Labor Bureau, Government of India, unemployment rate in India had shot up to a five-year high of 5% in 2015-16, with the figure significantly higher at 8.7% for women as compared to 4.3% for men (The Financial Express, 2016). This problem of rising unemployment can be tackled head on through entrepreneurship. And by increasing entrepreneurship among young people especially women, the employment rates in India can be increased significantly as women constitute 48.5% of the Indian population (Census of India, 2011). However, the current state of women entrepreneurship, both at the global and the country level, shows very depressing results. According to Female Entrepreneurship Index1 report in 2015, USA stood first with 82.9 score, while most of the Asian countries scored less than 50 points. This indicates that there is a need for providing favorable environment and enhancing individual aspirations among Asians in order to reduce barriers for female entrepreneurs. According to the World Bank, globally, only 25-33% of all private businesses are owned or operated by women. And women entrepreneurs constitute only 10% of the total number of entrepreneurs in India (Forbes, 2015).

 
 
 

Entrepreneurship Development Journal,Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Perceived Behavioral Control (PBC), Population, Sampling and Data Collection, Effect of Urban-Rural Background.