Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research
1997 Edition


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Terrence E. Brown
Bruce A. Kirchhoff

Jonkoping International Business School
P.O. Box 1026
551 11 Jonkoping, SWEDEN

School of  Management
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, New Jersey 07102-1982

Telephones: 46-36 15 64 37, 201-596-5658
Faxes: 46-36 16 50 69, 201-596-3074

Principal Topics

Availability of resources has long been a major issue among  entrepreneurship researchers' attempting to understand entrepreneurial success.  Recently, the resource-based view of business organizations has  been embraced by corporate strategist who perceive the crea-tion, acquisition and utilization of unique firm resources as a basis for  competitive ad-vantage. Resource views focus on the strengths that may lead to competitive advantage as firms exploit their resource advantages by behaving efficiently, and effectively, and  thus achieving greater success.

However, most of the resource-based research is focused upon large corporations rather than small entrepreneurial firms.  One primary difference is that small entrepreneurial firms have few internal  resources. This means that resources must largely be obtained from outside the firm.  Moreover, it is probable that the manager/owner is the key resource in a small firm.  The entrepreneur is likely to be the key capability or constraint on re-source acquisition.  If resources are so vital to firm success, and if the entrepreneur is  the key to acquiring  resources, then it is vital that researchers be able to measure entrepre-neurs' self-belief regarding resource acquisition.

The theory of self-efficacy has long been used by behavioral researchers as a basis to measure self-beliefs. Unlike  personality traits, self-efficacy is a task-specific behavioral mechanism.  Self-efficacy seems particularly well suited to measuring entrepreneurs' re-source search behavior. Resource acquisition self-evaluation should be related to the entrepreneur's perceptions of the degree to which the environment is  munificent.  Still, it is not solely perceptions of en-vironmental  munificence that affects the entrepreneur's behavior relative to  resources ac-quisition but also the entrepreneur's self-belief in  his/her ability to acquire these resources is important.  Nonetheless, environmental munificence offers a measure that can establish criterion validity for measures of resource acquisition self-efficacy.

This paper describes development, reliability testing, and  validation, of a survey  instru-ment designed to measure resource acquisition self-efficacy among entrepreneurs.  The paper provides a  literature review in which resource-based theory is reviewed and di-rected towards the special needs of entrepreneurs. Then, the self-efficacy literature is re-viewed thereby laying the foundation  for developing and testing the survey instrument.


A panel of judges was used to develop a prioritized list of financial  resources available to entrepreneurs and to establish the content validity of the questionnaire items.  Then a sur-vey of  173 small business owner/managers was conducted to define the reliability and va-lidity of  the survey instrument.  The questionnaire design drew heavily from the work of  Lee and Bobko  (1994) and Scherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-Dunn  and Rogers (1982) and  compared four different operationalizations of  resource acquisition self-effi-cacy.  Finally, a survey of 354 small business owner/managers was used to determine cri-terion validity with environmental  munificence.

Major Finding

The expert panel , which consisted of academics, consultants  and small business owners, was able to identify the fourteen most  common financial sources for small business own-ers and then rank  them according to accessibility.  Agreement was excellent as there were no significant differences among the three groups.  The questionnaire was prepared and tested on 173 small business owners.  Results showed reliability and internal validity.  One operationalization of resource acquisition self-efficacy stood out from the rest. This op-erationalization was then used to test the criterion validity hypothesis.  This test used sur-vey responses from 354 small business owner/managers and showed significant correlation with environmental munificence (p >.001) in the expected  direction. These results confirm the reliability and  validity of the instrument.


This study is important for theory development, because it is the  first step towards linking a task-specific self-efficacy, a behavioral mechanism, to other entrepreneurial concepts and behaviors.  As  a result of this research effort, researchers now have an reliable and valid instrument to measure an entrepreneur's resource acquisition self-efficacy which can be used  to further understand  entrepreneurs' decisions regarding their  firm's growth.  It also suggests that other self efficacy behaviors can be operationalized with probable bene-ficial results for research on entrepreneurial behavior.

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