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THE EFFECTS OF HUMAN CAPITAL AND ENTREPRENEURIAL COMPETENCIES ON THE CAREER SUCCESS OF SME ENTREPRENEURS IN THAILAND
Chinintorn Nakhata, Bangkok University (City Campus),
This study aims to provide a better understanding of the effects of human capital and entrepreneurial competencies on the career success of Thai SME entrepreneurs. A total of 13 hypotheses have been developed based on an individual perspective by applying the human capital approach in examining the relationship between human capital factors and career success and the competency approach in examining the relationship between entrepreneurial competencies and career success. The hypothesis testing from 388 questionnaires completed by Thai SME entrepreneurs showed that all three human capital (years of formal education, years of prior industry experience, and years of entrepreneurial experience) and ten entrepreneurial competencies (opportunity, relationship, analytical, innovative, operational, human, strategic, commitment, learning, and personal strength competencies) evinced positive relationships with both objective and subjective career success. This implies that successful SME entrepreneurs are people who have relatively high levels of human capital and entrepreneurial competencies.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) provide the solid foundation for Thailand’s industrial development, their products being utilized in larger industries as semi-products or raw materials (Tapaneeyangkul, 2001). In addition to their industrial role, SMEs constitute the key element in gauging and linking all crucial units of industry together and in filling the small gaps in industrial clusters (Simachokedee, 1999). SMEs also compensate for the limited success that large enterprises in Thailand have had in generating jobs. The concentration of economic power and the financial and physical-capital-intensive nature of large enterprises are, in many instances, in direct conflict with the goals of the Thai government’s social and economic development plan. In contrast SMEs employ a large proportion of the human capital, provide a productive outlet for expressing the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals, and assist in dispersing economic activity throughout the country. This makes SMEs more effective job creators than large enterprises; therefore, SMEs promote free enterprise and a sufficiency economy by creating wealth and spreading it out to the grassroots level, which stimulates the economic and social development of Thailand (Wasuntiwongse, 1999).
Entrepreneurs around the world can be divided into two types: opportunity-based and necessity-based (GEM, 2002; 2005). Opportunity-based entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs with high levels of human capital and entrepreneurial competencies. They choose to become SME entrepreneurs when they perceive business opportunities; thus, pursuing an entrepreneurial career is their choice. Necessity-based entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are entrepreneurs with low levels of human capital and entrepreneurial competencies. They generally lack other viable options for earning a living; thus, pursuing an entrepreneurial career is not their choice but a compulsion. As in other developing countries, a majority of SME entrepreneurs in Thailand have been identified as necessity-based entrepreneurs (GEM, 2004).
As human capital and entrepreneurial competencies can be improved through education and training (Parry, 1998), and as the career success of SME implies an improvement in SME entrepreneurs’ quantity and quality of life (Lau, 2002), it is incumbent on potential and practicing SME entrepreneurs, consultants, educational-training program developers, academic researchers, and policy makers to improve their understanding of the effects of human capital and entrepreneurial competencies on the career success of SME entrepreneurs in Thailand. In other words, there is a need to gain a better understanding of the effects of human capital and entrepreneurial competencies on the career success of SME entrepreneurs in Thailand. This study then addresses the research question: To what extents are human capital and entrepreneurial competencies related to the career success of SME entrepreneurs in Thailand?
The Oxford English Dictionary (2002) defines entrepreneurs as individuals who start or organize commercial enterprises. Schumpter (1934) states that entrepreneurs are the decision makers in a particular cultural context who command a range of behaviors that exploit certain opportunities. The idea that entrepreneurs function primarily as creators of innovation in the production process has influenced much of the literature on entrepreneurship in developed economies where entrepreneurs are commonly associated with the founding of business ventures (Chusimir, 1988; and Kirzner, 1979). However, in recent years, there has been an alternative explanation of entrepreneurial roles that focus more on the entrepreneurs’ abilities to organize rather than to create, which has resulted in the interchangeable use of the terms entrepreneurs and small business owners (Spring & MacDade, 1998).
In Thailand, a majority of the SME entrepreneurs in the past had relatively little formal education. For example, Tambunlertchai (1986) found that 58.5% of SME entrepreneurs received only primary or secondary educations, while university graduates comprised only 14.5%. They were also unlikely to develop their performance through formal training programs, as they perceived that operational issues were more important than acquiring and developing new knowledge and skills. However, due to the knowledge-based economy that has been evolving since the late 1990s, the new generation of SME entrepreneurs is tending to pay more attention to the pursuit of higher education. Due to the characteristics of financial and SME development-service centers that are not fully developed, SME entrepreneurs in Thailand have relatively low level of entrepreneurial competencies compared to their counterparts in developed countries (Phagaphasvivat, 2002; and Wasuntiwongse, 1999).
Human Capital theory (Becker, 1964; 1993) posits that individuals with more or higher-quality human capital perform better at executing relevant tasks, so human capital pertains to individual knowledge and abilities that allow for changes in action and economic growth. Human capital may be developed through formal training and education aimed at updating and renewing an individual’s capabilities in order to do well in society. Applying this theory to SME entrepreneurs, one expects a positive association between SME entrepreneurs’ human capital and their performance and, subsequently, between their performance and their career success.
The concept of entrepreneurial competencies relates to entrepreneurs’ performance (Draganidis & Mentaz, 2006). As entrepreneurs perform the roles of both owners and managers, it is believed that the areas of entrepreneurial competencies are broader than managerial competencies (Johnson & Winterton, 1999). Johnson and Winterton (1999) argue that, as it is difficult to analyze the activities performed by entrepreneurs when they are either pure managerial-administrative activities or pure entrepreneurial activities, the term entrepreneurial competencies should refer to managerial–entrepreneurial competencies. While there is no universally accepted list of entrepreneurial competencies, this study follows Man (2001) entrepreneurial competencies as a theoretical framework. Man (2001) defines entrepreneurial competencies as individual characteristics, including personality traits, knowledge, and skill, that lead to effective or higher entrepreneurial job performance, which can be assessed through the behaviors of entrepreneurs. His framework was developed in a qualitative study by interviewing 19 successful SME entrepreneurs in Hong Kong and then empirically testing his framework through a mail survey. The 10 clusters of entrepreneurial competencies identified in his framework consist of 1) opportunity, 2) relationship, 3) analytical, 4) innovative, 5) operational, 6) human, 7) strategic, 8) commitment, 9) learning, and 10) personal strength competencies.
The generic term career success can be distinguished into objective and subjective forms (Judged et al., 1995; Melamed, 1996a; and Nabi, 1999). Objective career success has been measured in terms of society’s evaluation of achievement with reference to extrinsic measures, such as salary and managerial level (Melamed, 1996a). In contrast, subjective career success has been defined as a conceptually distinct construct referring to individuals’ judgments of their own success evaluated against personal standards, age, aspirations, and views of significant others (Gattiker & Larwood, 1988, 1989). A number of researchers have suggested investigating both objective and subjective aspects of the career success of SME entrepreneurs (Greenbank, 2001; Lau, 2002; and Parasuraman et al., 1996). Thus, in this study the career success of SME entrepreneurs in Thailand will be measured by income (objective career success) and career satisfaction (subjective career success) as they are indicators of entrepreneurial career success that have been widely used in previous studies (Gattiker and Larwood, 1988; Judge et al., 1995; and Lau, 2002).
As this study aims to investigate the effects of human capital and entrepreneurial competencies on the career success of SME entrepreneurs in Thailand, the conceptual model for this study consists of two main independent variables (human capital and entrepreneurial competencies) and one main dependent variable (career success). There are three sub-independent variables under human capital: years of formal education, years of prior industry experience, and years of entrepreneurial experience; 10 sub-independent variables under entrepreneurial competencies: opportunity, relationship, analytical, innovative, operational, human, strategic, commitment, learning, and personal strength competencies. The dependent variable, career success, consists of two sub-dependent variables: objective career success (income), and subjective career success (career satisfaction).
The Career Success of SME Entrepreneurs Conceptual Model
Independent Variable Dependent Variable
Years of formal education
Years of prior industry experience
Years of entrepreneurial experience
Objective career success
Subjective career success
Personal strength competencies
H1: There is no relationship between human capital and a) objective career success; b) subjective career success.
H2: There is no relationship between entrepreneurial competencies and a) objective career success; b) subjective career success.
This study has entailed gathering descriptive information about the human capital, the entrepreneurial competencies, and the career success of SME entrepreneurs in Thailand. It has also involved correlation analysis to determine the degree of the relationship between the selected independent variables (entrepreneurial human capital and competencies) and the dependent variables (objective and subjective career success).
The survey instrument used in this study is a self-administered questionnaire and the questionnaire-delivering/collecting period occurred during 7 April–5 July 2006. The Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) for Windows, version 11.5, was used to analyze the data from the 388 completed questionnaires. Two types of data analysis, descriptive analysis and hypothesis testing (correlation analysis), were employed.
General Information of the Respondents
|J. International Business and Entrepreneurship Development, Vol. 3, No. 1/2, 2006||Small business innovation research|
|11. b small business technology transfer (sttr)||11. 2 Small Business Innovation Research (sbir)|
|Small Business Innovation Research (sbir) 10. 3||12. b small business technology transfer (sttr)|
|12. 1 Small Business Innovation Research (sbir)||Small Business Innovation Research (sbir) 10. 3|
|Army 11. 2 Small Business Innovation Research (sbir)||Navy 12. 3 Small Business Innovation Research (sbir)|