International Journal of Entrepreneurship (Print ISSN: 1099-9264; Online ISSN: 1939-4675)

Research Article: 2022 Vol: 26 Issue: 2

The factors influence entrepreneurial intention: a case study on undergraduate students at a private university in Vietnam

Lam Thi Hoang Linh, Nguyen Tat Thanh University

Citation Information: LinhL T H. (2022). The factors influence entrepreneurial intention: a case study on undergraduate students at a private university in Vietnam. International Journal of Entrepreneurship, 26(2), 1-14.


This research empirically examined the effects of elements of Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), entrepreneurial skill and entrepreneurial environment knowledge on entrepreneurship intention. A dataset consisting of 653 undergraduate students in Nguyen Tat Thanh University in Vietnam was collected and structural equation modeling was used to analyze the relationships among the model constructs. Personal attitude construct of TPB was eliminated from the model and the reduced structure model adequately fits the data. The result of the study indicates that short TPB model with two elements of social norm and perceived control is strongly linked with entrepreneurial intention and could mediate the relationship of entrepreneurial skill and entrepreneurial intention. It also suggests an indirect, but not totally influential, effect of entrepreneurial environment knowledge on intention.


Entrepreneurial Intention, TPB Model, Entrepreneurial Skill, Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge


In Vietnam, startup has emerged as a topic of great interest in recent years. The year of 2016 was identified as the nation year of start-up. Since then, the government has had policies and programs to promote startup which is expected to create economic growth and established a number of funds at State and provincial level to support startup. Social and economic organizations have implemented programs and activities to support and encourage people, especially young people, to create new business. These have resulted in the fast development of entrepreneurship in Vietnam. As a result, Vietnam has been predicted by Golden Gate Ventures to be a start-up hub which would not only promising for investors but also closely competing with regional leaders, due to its movement 13 places to top 59th of 100 economies which have best startup ecosystem ranked by the Startup Blink.

Ho Chi Minh City is being seen the potential in booming for start-up with more than 50 per cent of the nation’s start-ups in 2020. There are many important reasons for choosing to start a business in the city. The city is the most dynamic city in Vietnam; it was ranked by the 2017 City Momentum Index at second place of the most dynamic cities in the world. The younger and talented generation from different areas is increasingly moving to the city to study and develop their career. There are many local and foreign companies are looking for opportunities in this city. The City’s government has introduced a project to facilitate the development of its innovative start-up ecosystem that is expected not only to enable start-ups to improve productivity and competitiveness but also support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Ho Chi Minh City comprises 11 private universities those dynamically operate as business enterprises because they are not only providing educational services but also must competing to survive and develop. Therefore, their students inherit the dynamism in their learning. The higher education institutions have made efforts to promote entrepreneurship among students. They have frequently organized programs and contests, included startup courses in the educational programs, organized at start-up clubs at institutional and faculty’s level.

Nguyen Tat Thanh University (NTTU) is a private university and was established in 1999. It is a multi-discipline higher education institution with 15 faculties which is divided into 5 main sectors, including: Health, Economics, Social Sciences and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, Music and Arts. The institution provides 54 academic programs to over 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students from across the nation.

Entrepreneurial intention contributes significantly in developing the entrepreneurial behaviors among individuals (Zaremohzzabieh et al., 2019). The better individuals’ intentions of setting up business are, the more individuals will become entrepreneurs and participate in the progress economic. Therefore, determining influences to the entrepreneurial intention is essential to develop entrepreneurship among young people.

Although a number of studies in Vietnam regarding the entrepreneurial intentions of higher education students was conducted under various contexts since 2016, there were few researches on factors influence student’s intention of becoming entrepreneurs by integrating the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a mediation, and no study on the influence of entrepreneurial skill and entrepreneurial environment knowledge to entrepreneurial intention of students. Authors considered the direct influence of TPB’s elements, student’s perspectives (needs, abilities, experiences, lifestyles), external factors from the institutions (entrepreneurship education, start-up environment, training programs, training methods, extracurricular activities), or government and the economy (policies, market and financial conditions, capital sources) on entrepreneurial intention of students.

The purpose of this study was to investigate if entrepreneurial skill and entrepreneurial environment knowledge would positively influence the entrepreneurial intention of students in Vietnam, specified in Nguyen Tat Thanh University (NTTU) directly and indirectly by integrating the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as mediation.

The results of this study was identified as being of important to Nguyen Tat Thanh University in particular and higher education institutions in Vietnam in considering the entrepreneurial training contents and making adjustment to the activities and support students’ entrepreneurship.

Theory and Hypothesis

Entrepreneurship Intention

Bird (1988) defined entrepreneurial intention as an individual’s conscious awareness, strong belief in and behaviors toward a new business formation in the future. (Remeikiene & Startiene, 2013) supported that entrepreneurial intention referred to the condition under which an individual develop his or her conscious state of mind and then would make decisions to start a new firm and become an entrepreneur.

The concept was “a key construct in research on a new business formation and frequently used as an important dependent variable in research on entrepreneurship” (Thompson, 2009) due to its superior predictor of entrepreneurship (Krueger & Carsrud, 2000).

Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)

Entrepreneurship was considered as an intentional and planned behavior. According to (Krueger & Carsrud, 1993), intention on starting a new business was a planned because it involved an inactive cognitive process and was hard to observe. Krueger et al. (2000) supported that entrepreneurial behavior was intentionally planned because of the obviously evident of business plan on setting up a new business in various conditions. Therefore, researches should use theory-driven models that competently reflect the perception-based process underlying such planned behaviors as entrepreneurial intention (Krueger & Carsrud, 1993).

According to Krueger et al. (2000), among intention-based models in practical applications research, Ajzen (1991)’s Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) emerged as an ideal one because of its most robust and valid form in modeling intention antecedents. The model proves that it was advantageous to explain business venture formation intentions by “offering a coherent, parsimonious, highly-generalizable, and robust theoretical framework for understanding and prediction”.

Ajzen (1991) proposed the TPB including three antecedents that could predict intention to perform behaviors, including: “attitude toward the behavior, subjective norms with respect to the behavior, and perceived control over the behavior”. Attitude toward behavior related to perceptions of the personal desirability of performing the behavior, and depended on expectations and beliefs about personal impacts of outcomes resulting from the behavior. Subjective social norms involved perceptions of the thought and expectation about performing a particular behavior of an individual’s important people. Perceived behavioral control was reviewed as the perceived ability to execute a target behavior. He found that the TPB’s elements could account for a considerable proportion of variances in actual behaviors.

Applying TPB model to predict entrepreneurial intention, (Liñán & Chen, 2009; Liñán, Nabi, & Krueger, 2013; Nabi & Liñán, 2013), who conducted many researches on entrepreneurial intention of students in different nations, suggested three elements namely Personal Attitude (PA) towards becoming an entrepreneur, Social Norm (SN), and Perceived Behavioral Control (PBC).

(Liñán & Chen, 2009) argued that PA preferred the extent of positive valuation about the business formation, and should be measured by an aggregate attitude scale which suggested by (Ajzen, 1991) because it was a more valid measure. (Shapero & Sokol, 1982) and Krueger et al. (2000) found such critical testable outcomes as personal quality of life, personal wealth, stress, autonomy, and community benefits influencing the entrepreneurial intention.

SN measured the pressure and support to become an entrepreneur from significant people who had most important social influences. The reference group of people suggested by (Liñán & Chen, 2009; Nabi & Liñán 2013) included family, friends, and colleagues. SN was weakly predicted the entrepreneurial intention while Krueger et al. (2000) added significant other, including any “role model” or “mentor”. Though SN were argued “less predictive of intentions for subjects with a highly internal locus of control or a strong orientation toward taking action” (cited in Krueger et al. (2000), the element is not omitted in this study by the reason that the subjective social norm might vary from culture to culture.

PBC, according to (Liñán & Chen, 2009), had a view similar to Bandura (1997)’s self-efficacy which referred to the judgment of important competencies that an individual need to create a new business. (Liñán & Chen, 2009) and (Nabi & Liñán, 2013) defined PBC as individual’s beliefs in the possibility of control becoming an entrepreneur, both the feeling of being able and the perception about controllability of the behavior. Self-efficacy was identified as the key elements that directly affected entrepreneurial intentions (Krueger et al., 2000).

In this research, TPB’s factors are used as mediating factor in order to examine the possibilities that there are the correlations between independent variables and entrepreneurial intention through the personal attitude, social norms and perceived behavior control. This leads to the set of hypotheses:

H1a: Personal Attitude positively influences Entrepreneurial Intention

H1b: Social Norm positively influences Entrepreneurial Intention

H1c: Perceived Behavioral Control positively influences Entrepreneurial Intention

Entrepreneurial skill

Being successful in entrepreneurial practices, including individuals intended to become an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial skill set was one of the most-important factors required. Skill was defined as the ability and the capacity to do things (Ogundele, 2007). In the works of (Nabi & Liñán, 2013) and Liñán et al. (2013), they defined entrepreneurial skill as “the degree to which individuals are confident that they possess sufficiently high levels of entrepreneurial skill”. They also found by reviewing previous literatures that an individual possessed such specific skills as creativity and problem-solving could increase the perception of ease in pursuing entrepreneurship, was greater attracted towards entrepreneurship and more accepted by significant others. Entrepreneurial skill was found not only playing important role in the determination of entrepreneurial intention of student but also having a significant impact on the three elements of TPB (Liñán, 2008; Liñán et al., 2013; Nabi & Liñán, 2013). Therefore, the set of hypotheses as follows:

H2: Entrepreneurial skill positively influence Entrepreneurial Intention

H3a: Entrepreneurial skill positively influence Personal Attitude

H3b: Entrepreneurial skill positively influence Subjective Norm

H3c: Entrepreneurial skill positively influence Perceived Behavioral Control

Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge

According to (Nabi & Liñán, 2013), entrepreneurial environment knowledge was preferred as the level of knowledge and awareness the individual has about the entrepreneurial environment and support systems. They noted that the higher knowledge of entrepreneurial environment that individuals have, the more perception of realistic entrepreneurial activities they have. As the result, they were able to identify appropriate role models and control the business formulation. Applying to higher education students, they proposed the knowledge would comprise the awareness of associations, support bodies, training and support measures, and access to preferential loans. These researches discovered that the knowledge could “contribute to a more accurate awareness of, and attraction to, the entrepreneurial career route and enhance social approval from significant others”. This leads to the following hypotheses:

H4: Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge positively influence Entrepreneurial Intention

H5a: Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge positively influence Personal Attitude

H5b: Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge positively influence Subjective Norm

H5c: Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge positively influence Perceived Behavioral Control

Hypothesized Model

Figure 1 summarizes the initial model for the analysis. This includes the entire proposed entrepreneurial intention model.

Figure 1 Entrepreneurial Intention Model with Hypotheses


The research employed quantitative approach as the key method and convenient sampling method because of cheap to implement and data collected in short duration of time.

Participants and Data Collection

The questionnaire was designed to obtain information related to the study topic based on the literature review. It included two parts:

Part 1 included the multiple-choice questions to collect the demographic information of the respondents such as age, gender, year of education, field of study, work experience, entrepreneurial experience, and start up training.

Part 2 comprised the questions relating to the respondents’ viewpoints on entrepreneurship intention (4 questions) and its influencing factors (27 questions). These factors were measured by a Likert scale with five items in which 1 represents “Strongly Disagree” and 5 is “Strongly Agree”.

The questionnaires were delivered to students from 5 education sectors in NTTU by hard-copy questionnaire and online via google form. There were 653 completes and this sample size well represented to the population of approximate of 21.000 students studying at NTTU as it provided a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error (confidence interval) of 3.78% < 5%. The proportion of the survey participants’ education sectors was quite similar to the proportion students of the institution, thus ensuring the proper distribution among the survey groups Table 1.

Table 1 Sample Distribution
Education Sectors % of Students Sample %of Sample
Health Sciences 31,4% 201 30,8%
Economics 22,5% 153 23,4%
Social Sciences and Humanities 21,9% 139 21,3%
Engineering and Technology 22,8% 151 23,1%
Music and Arts 1,4% 9 1,4%
Total 100% 653 100%


This research uses the same measures employed in Liñán et al. (2013) to measure the effects of TPB constructs, entrepreneurial skill and entrepreneurial environment knowledge on entrepreneurial. The measures were revised basing on prior study of the authors and then confirmed the adequate reliability and discriminant validity.

The measure of TPB constructs included four central constructs of the TPB in the context of entrepreneurship. They were personal attitude toward entrepreneurship, social norm, perceived behavioral control and entrepreneurial intention. PA used 4 items relating to the valuation about the start-up of a new business. Social norm comprised 3 items measuring the pressure and support to become an entrepreneur from significant people. Perceived behavioral control focused on 4 items referring to the ability of becoming an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial intention included items measuring intentionality toward new business creation.

Both entrepreneurial skill construct and knowledge of the entrepreneurial environment were measured by using 6-item scales.

Data Analysis

The SPSS 22 is used to perform an exploratory factor analysis (CFA) and the AMOS 24 is employed to test the structural equation modelling (SEM), including relatability and validity of indicators as well as hypothesized relationships. This study employs the SEM approach as it can simultaneously analyze the direct, indirect and total effect on the TPB elements and entrepreneurial intention. The AMOS version 20 is used to test.

According to Hair et al. (2010), the Chisq/df ratio is considered to assess overall model adequacy and should be less than 2.0. Goodness-of-fit indexes including RMSEA, CFI and GFI are generally accepted, in which CFI and GFI greater than .90 while RMSEA less than .05 would be considered as indicative of close fit.

The data set was checked for the existence of common-method variance bias. To minimize this bias, data collection was performed: guaranteeing each respondent anonymity and confidentiality from third parties; assuring them that there were no right or wrong answers; and measuring the dependent constructs (i.e. entrepreneurial intention, PA and PBC) with some distracter items in between them and prior to the independent constructs (e.g. risk perception, environmental context), as suggested by the literature.

Results and Discussion

Sample Characteristics

Of 653 these respondents, more than half (61%) of them was female and the majority of them was 2nd-year students (53%) while the 1st-year (19.8%) and 3rd-year (20.8%) groups were quite similar. This made up 93.7% of respondents were in year 1 to year 3 as many of education programs provided by the institution have been shortened from 4-year-length to 3-year-length. Similarly, respondents were in the age group of 20-22 (63%) and under 20 years old (29.7%) because they were in the year 1 to year 3. Approximate 26% respondents had work experience, 33% had entrepreneurial experience and 41% of have learned entrepreneurship toughed by NTTU as a formal curriculum or short training course by other organizations Table 2.

Table 2 Sample Characteristics
Description Frequency %
Age group Under 20 194 29.7
20 to22 412 63.1
22 to 24 34 5.2
Over 24 13 2.0
Gender Male 254 38.9
Female 397 60.8
Year of Education Year 1 129 19.8
Year 2 347 53.1
Year 3 136 20.8
Year 4 36 5.5
Year 5 5 .8
Work Experience Yes 168 25.7
No 485 74.3
Entrepreneurial Experience Yes 213 32.6
No 440 67.4
Start-up Training Yes 267 40.9
No 386 59.1
Total 653 100.0

Measurement Model Assessment

An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) is applied to assess the measurement reliability of the reflective constructs. Factor analysis extracts six factors (with eigenvalues >1) which fully correspond to the research expectation.

Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) is then applied to evaluate if the constructs describes the data. The initial findings of CFA yield some of offending estimates. The item loading of pbc_4 item (r=.48<.5) and the average variance extracted of PA variable (AVE=.45<.5) are less than 0.5. Eliminating the item and variable with below adequate scores, the TPB model has remained 2 variables, including SN and PBC which has 3 items instead of 4 items as initial designed. The final CFA results of the revised model are showed in Table 3 and the node diagram for the analysis is shown in Figure 2.

Table 3 Model Reliability and Validity
Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge KS ks_3 0.882 0.942 0.173 0.729 0.854 ***
ks_4 0.873         ***
ks_5 0.902         ***
ks_6 0.863         ***
ks_2 0.828         ***
ks_1 0.769         ***
Entrepreneurial skill ES es_4 0.799 0.906 0.203 0.616 0.785 ***
es_3 0.801         ***
es_2 0.776         ***
es_5 0.807         ***
es_1 0.766         ***
es_6 0.759         ***
Entrepreneurial Intention EI ei_1 0.783 0.875 0.319 0.541 0.725 ***
ei_4 0.632         ***
ei_2 0.772         ***
ei_3 0.704         ***
Perceived Behavioral Control PBC pbc_2 0.849 0.806 0.343 0.583 0.763 ***
pbc_1 0.650         ***
pbc_3 0.778         ***
Subjective Norm SN sn_3 0.740 0.795 0.343 0.564 0.751 ***
sn_2 0.780         ***
sn_1 0.732         ***

Figure 2 Results of Final CFA Model

The model in Figure 2 presents such statistics and Indies as Chisq/df =1.881< 2.0 with df=198 and P=.00<.05; RMSEA=.037<.05; GFI=.951>.90; CFI=.980> .9; present the close fit of the model to the data.

The Table 3 shows that all factor loading greater than .6 (r>.6) and CR greater than .7 (CR>.7) which reflect satisfactory reliability of the measurement model (Hair et al., 2010). The Average Variance Extracted value of all variances greater than .5 (AVE>.5) indicates satisfactory convergent validity of the measurement model (Hair et al., 2010). In other words, the internal consistency of the construct is confirmed.

On the other hand, the AVE values of all variances are greater than their maximum shared variance (MSV) (Table 3) and the Square root of AVEs (SQRTAVE) show higher values in comparing with the inter-construct correlations values (Table 4). Therefore, the discriminant validity of the constructs is confirmed.

Table 4 Model Discriminant Validity
Construct PBC KS ES EI SN
PBC 0.763        
KS 0.353 0.854      
ES 0.450 0.416 0.785    
EI 0.469 0.099 0.416 0.725  
SN 0.586 0.316 0.410 0.565 0.751

In conclusion, measurement model tests show some fragility, which creates the necessity to adjust original constructs. CFAs reduce the 6-variance model to 5-variance one by eliminating the PA variance and item pbc_4 of the PBC variance. The analysis results indicate the scales are reliability and the structures achieve discriminant value, ensuring the analysis of the external linear structural model.

Structure Model Assessments

SEM analysis is used to explore the relationships between dependents, mediating and independent variables to exam the probability of ability that proposed models happened, provide information about model and the relative components of the models. The results of SEM model analysis are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 SEM Model

The hypotheses are tested by using the bootstrapping procedure on the basis of 5,000 samples and 95% confidence interval. Multiple regression analysis is performed to investigate the relationships between dependent variables, mediating variables and independent variables to test the model probability, information about model and relative components of the model. Hypothesis is supported when the P values below .005 (significant level = 5%). In addition, if the absolute value of CR smaller than 2, the bias is very small or not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. In this case, the estimates in the model can be trusted.

The Table 5 summarizes all direct relationships of hypotheses. There is only one factor, entrepreneurial environment knowledge, has negative directly impact on entrepreneurial intention while the others have positive influence on intention of student. Social norm (β=.421, ρ=.000) (H1b) as an element of TPB has the directly strongest effect on intention and it helps to explain that influence of significant others can more strongly predict NTTU student’s entrepreneurial intention in comparing with individual’s beliefs in the possibility of control becoming an entrepreneur (β=.183, ρ=.004 <.005) (H1c).

Table 5 Standardized Regression Weights – Direct Effect
Hypothesis Path Estimate Mean Bias SE-Bias CR P* Decision
H1b SN ---> EI 0.421 0.42 -0.001 0.001 -1 *** Supported
H1c PBC ---> EI 0.183 0.184 0.001 0.001 1 0.002 Supported
H2 ES ---> EI 0.244 0.244 0 0.001 0 *** Supported
H3b ES ---> SN 0.337 0.336 -0.001 0.001 -1 *** Supported
H3c ES ---> PBC 0.367 0.367 0 0.001 0 *** Supported
H4 KS ---> EI -0.201 -0.2 0 0.001 0 *** Not Supported
H5b KS ---> SN 0.176 0.175 -0.001 0.001 -1 *** Supported
H5c KS ---> PBC 0.200 0.2 -0.001 0.001 -1 *** Supported

On the other hand, entrepreneurial skill also has directly significant impact on both social norm (β=.337, ρ=.000) (H3b) and perceived behavioral control (β=.367, ρ=.000) (H3c) of TPB as well as entrepreneurial intention (β=.244, ρ=.000) (H2) and thus help to explain why students tend to choose entrepreneurship as their future career. On the contrary, though entrepreneurial environment knowledge has smaller positive effect on two elements of TPB (SN with β=.176 (H5b), PBCB with β=.200 (H5c)), it has a negative effect entrepreneurial intention (β=-.201, ρ=.000) (H4).

Additional, the analysis results indicate that entrepreneurial intention is indirectly influenced by entrepreneurial skill (β=.209, ρ=.000) and entrepreneurial environment knowledge (β=.111, ρ=.000). The total effect of two factors can be calculated as sum of the direct and indirect effects. Based on Table 6, the total effect of entrepreneurial skill (β=.453, ρ=.000) on entrepreneurial intention is strong and positive while the total relationship between entrepreneurial environment knowledge (β=-.0.090, ρ=.053 >.05) and entrepreneurial intention is not significant because of the P value greater .05 and thus could not predict the intention to entrepreneurship.

Table 6 Direct, Indirect and Total Effect
Variable Path Cause Effects
Direct Indirect Total
Social norm SN --->EI .421   .421
Perceived behavioral control PBC --->EI .183   .183
Entrepreneurial skill ES --->EI .244 .209 .453
Entrepreneurial Environment Knowledge KS --->EI -.201 .111 -.090*
* Two tailed significant P-value > .05

In conclusion, social norm is stronger in comparing with perceived behavioral control in predicting students' entrepreneurial intentions. Though both entrepreneurial skill and entrepreneurial environment knowledge have indirect significant effects on entrepreneurial intention, only entrepreneurial skill has significantly total effect on intention. Therefore, the better entrepreneurial skill, the higher the student’s intention to start a business; and social norm and perceived behavioral control are strongly positive mediating impact of entrepreneurial skill on entrepreneurial intention.


Despite the strong support of social norm on entrepreneurial intention in current study, the finding should be treated tentatively because of ample evidence on weak prediction of social norm with regard to student’s entrepreneurial intention. According to Liñán, (2008), some limitations regarding the measure (problematic measure of SN, for example) or the socially homogeneous sample may be present.

The study may suggest two main implications. The first relates to the finding that social norm and perceived behavioral control predict entrepreneurial intention among student in NTTU. This research reveals that their parents and social environment provide condition under which students develop their intentionality towards start a new business. The mediating effect of SN and PBC is substantiated in this study. The result recommends that the institution should extent such frequency activities as inviting successful entrepreneurs as guest speakers to share their entrepreneurial journey or support students’ start-up projects, inviting members of young entrepreneurs’ clubs to encourage their entrepreneurship progress. These activities could reinforce the social message that becoming entrepreneur is attractive, valuable, and feasible as well as help to enhance their beliefs in the possibility of control becoming entrepreneurs.

The most important and practical implication drawn from the study is the role of entrepreneurial skill in developing the entrepreneurial intention among student. More attention should be paid to the development of entrepreneurial skill set as the factor predicting higher entrepreneurial intention by the mediated effect of SN and PBC. A suggestion made for decision makers of the institution to consider is to equip student with important business skills for startups such as opportunity identification, creativity, problem solving, and leadership. Leadership and communication, new product development and networking. Those should not be limited for students studying in economic faculties but also for students of other faculties in NTTU. The courses provided for non-economic major students should be in form of selective courses so that students can easily enhance skills which they need for their entrepreneurial skill fulfilment. The curricular of these courses should be design for becoming entrepreneurs’ orientation. This helps students have more options for preparing themselves to become entrepreneurs and thereby be more confident in their careers.


This work was supported by grants from Nguyen Tat Thanh University, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.



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