Original Research

The entrepreneurial intention-action gap and contextual factors: Towards a conceptual model

Paul Roos, Melodi Botha
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 25, No 1 | a4232 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v25i1.4232 | © 2022 Paul Roos, Melodi Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 July 2021 | Published: 26 April 2022

About the author(s)

Paul Roos, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Melodi Botha, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Previous work on entrepreneurial intention suggests that intention does not necessarily lead to entrepreneurial action; this is referred to in the literature as the entrepreneurial intention-action gap. Current entrepreneurship literature has focused on this gap and how it occurs, but limited work focuses on the contextual factors, such as self-identity, family, and formal institutions, and their influence on the entrepreneurial intention-action gap.

Aim: To determine the influence contextual factors may have on an entrepreneur’s ability to overcome the entrepreneurial intention-action gap; therefore, an inductive conceptual model is developed that encompasses these influences.

Setting: This qualitative study was conducted with ten agri-entrepreneurs from different agricultural organisations in South Africa.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews, with a reverse-flow approach, were conducted telephonically with participants. The study employed a generic qualitative research design and Atlas.ti was used to conduct thematic analysis to identify and analyse patterns (themes) that emerged from interviews with respondents.

Results: The study inductively develops a conceptual model that could be empirically tested in future research to determine whether this model can be used to bridge the entrepreneurial intention-action gap. This model may be applicable not only to the agriculture sector but also to other industries.

Conclusion: New knowledge regarding self-identity factors emerged from the findings. The article also supports existing literature by suggesting that family members have an influence on an individual’s success in becoming an entrepreneur. Finally, the unique dynamics of formal institutions in South Africa are presented and a contribution is made by shedding light on how entrepreneurs and formal institutions should collaborate to bridge the entrepreneurial intention-action gap.


entrepreneurial intention-action gap; entrepreneurial intention; entrepreneurial action; contextual factors; self-identity; family business; formal institutions; agri-entrepreneurs; qualitative research


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Crossref Citations

1. Transitioning from entrepreneurial intention to actual behaviour: The role of commitment and locus of control
Brownhilder Ngek Neneh, Obey Dzomonda
The International Journal of Management Education  vol: 22  issue: 2  first page: 100964  year: 2024  
doi: 10.1016/j.ijme.2024.100964