Exploring how values shape the entrepreneurial propensity of youths: a study of the young, black South African entrepreneur

South Africa’s Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) scores are consistently well-below the average of other efficiency-driven economies, as well as for other sub-Saharan countries (Turton and Herrington, 2013). Despite this, a 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report suggests that youth in sub-Saharan Africa demonstrate marked entrepreneurial propensity and potential (Kew, Herrington, Letovsky and Gale, 2013). As such, this thesis seeks to contribute an understanding of how black, youth entrepreneurs located in Johannesburg’s informal economy, seek to achieve legitimacy, and thus ‘become’, through the attainment of an accepted entrepreneurial identity. To this end, the role of hybridity, as a form of entrepreneurial capital, is explored as a potential mechanism. A hypothesised conceptual framework is accordingly evolved which explores the relationships between entrepreneurial identity aspiration, resource attainment, legitimacy, and how these are mediated by hybridity. Survey data gathered from young, black entrepreneurs (n=503) across Johannesburg’s seven administrative districts, using a structured questionnaire, and tested using multiple regression analysis, reveals the following: a direct relationship between entrepreneurial identity aspiration, entrepreneurial resources as well as the attainment of legitimacy is found, suggesting that black youth do indeed aspire to entrepreneurial legitimacy, and thus, seek to ‘become’ accordingly. Moreover, hybrid values are seen to mediate the relationship between entrepreneurial iii identity aspiration and resource attainment such that they accounted for the relationship. This suggests the potential for hybridity as a form of entrepreneurial capital such that values might have been seen to act as a form a catalyst for the attainment of other resources. The study contributes a conceptual framework which provides a theoretical understanding of young, black entrepreneurs in South Africa. More specifically, it suggests a values-mediated relationship between entrepreneurial identity aspiration and the attainment of resources such that youth seek legitimacy accordingly. As such, this study is the first to provide insights into the potential impact that hybrid values might have on shaping an entrepreneurial identity. Additionally, it contributes evidence to suggest that opportunity-driven behaviour motivates young, black entrepreneurs in Johannesburg’s informal economy, beyond necessity motives which are used to stereotypically frame this space. It is recommended that further research be undertaken to test this framework in other contexts in order to gain a finer understanding of hybridity as a potential entrepreneurial resource. This might additionally involve research into the cues that potentially result in a switching between different values.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of the Witwatersrand, Faculty of Commerce, Law & Management, School of Economic and Business Sciences, 2014.
Youth, Entrepreneurship, Informal economy, Entrepreneurial economy, Entrepreneurial identity, Aspiration, Legitimacy, Hybridity