Original Research

Business environment’s impact on female students’ entrepreneurial intentions: Gender analysis

Mohammad M. Islam, Majed Alharthi
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 55, No 1 | a3962 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v55i1.3962 | © 2024 Mohammad Mazharul Islam, Majed Alharthi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2023 | Published: 13 March 2024

About the author(s)

Mohammad M. Islam, Department of Finance, College of Business, King Abdulaziz University, Rabigh, Saudi Arabia
Majed Alharthi, Department of Finance, College of Business, King Abdulaziz University, Rabigh, Saudi Arabia


Purpose: This study investigates how the business environment affects the entrepreneurial intentions (EIs) of female university students in Saudi Arabia. Specifically, the research examines the role of perceived social norms (PSNs) as a mediator and self-efficacy as a moderator.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were gathered electronically from universities in Saudi Arabia using university-endorsed email. The survey questionnaire was formed based on rigorous literature and pre-tested and validated by two professors who specialise in entrepreneurship and four students from four different universities. A total of 300 usable responses were collected and partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was used for data analysis.

Findings/results: The study’s findings indicate that PSN indirectly influence EI through other antecedents rather than directly. Moreover, the study confirms that self-efficacy moderates the relationship between personal attitude and EI. The results also demonstrate that the business environment significantly contributes to female students’ EIs.

Practical implications: By incorporating the business environment into the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) framework, this study offers a more profound insight into the determinants influencing EIs. In addition, the study proposes a revised TPB model that considers the mediating role of self-efficacy and personal attitudes and the moderating role of self-efficacy. Overall, this study is ground-breaking in this area of research.

Originality/value: This article fulfils an identified need to study which factors influence females’ intention to be an entrepreneur in a country that is strongly anchored in religion and tradition.


entrepreneurial intention; theory of planned behaviour; business environment; perceived social norms; self-efficacy; personal attitudes; religious beliefs; steeped traditions

JEL Codes

L26: Entrepreneurship

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 5: Gender equality


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