PURPOSE : In spite of research on entrepreneurial intentions being a mature field of enquiry, little is known about the influence of experience on entrepreneurial intentions, especially among the youth and in developing contexts. This paper aims to investigate the impact of different types of experience – entrepreneurial early childhood experiences, prior start-up experiences, work experience, education and peer influence – on the entrepreneurial intentions of South African youth.
DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH : First, a quantitative survey of 827 secondary students was administered, and the results were analysed by means of hierarchical logistic regression. Second, two focus groups were conducted with secondary students representing two distinct segments of South African society to shed light on some of the unique survey findings.
FINDINGS : The results revealed that the experiences of having attempted to start a business and having previously worked in a business, as well as entrepreneurship education, have a positive influence on youth entrepreneurial intentions, while peers' entrepreneurial intentions exert a negative influence. Peer influence and contextual factors such as family and community support, which are catalytic in other parts of the world, appear to dampen youth entrepreneurial intentions because of fear of failure and fear of competition.
ORIGINALITY/VALUE : This paper examines the influence of a broader taxonomy of experience types on youth entrepreneurial intentions than found in previous studies. It highlights the unique role played by specific types of experience and points to the need to include extra-curricular entrepreneurial experiences in interventions aimed at fostering youth entrepreneurial intentions in developing nations.