We build on the work of Haynie and Shepherd (Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33, 695–714, 2009), who introduced five dimensions of cognitive adaptability in an entrepreneurial context, and Urban (Management Dynamics, 21, 16–33, 2012a), who explored the relationship of cognitive adaptability with entrepreneurial intention. There is evidence that cognitive adaptability represents a link in the development of intentions and we empirically answer the call to explore moderators of this relationship. We analyse data collected from 602 potential entrepreneurs in South Africa using structural equation modelling. The results indicate that three cognitive adaptability dimensions, namely goal orientation, metacognitive experience, and metacognitive choice, have a positive relationship with entrepreneurial intention. Level of education, age, gender and entrepreneurial type were tested as moderators as they represent personal-level variables related to both cognitive adaptability and entrepreneurial intention in the literature. Level of education moderated the relationship between goal orientation and entrepreneurial intention, as well as between metacognitive experience and entrepreneurial intention. The moderating role of gender affected the positive influence of goal orientation on entrepreneurial intention, which was stronger for females, while the negative influence of monitoring was stronger for males and weaker for females. For the entrepreneurial type moderator, the sample was split between 443 necessity-driven and 159 opportunity-driven potential entrepreneurs. The results revealed that entrepreneurial type moderated the path between metacognitive experience and entrepreneurial intention, which was stronger for necessity than opportunity potential entrepreneurs. The unconventional moderation effects observed in this South African study carry far wider applicability for the development of the theory of cognitive adaptability in an entrepreneurial context.
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