Regional and individual determinants of entrepreneurial growth aspirations


  • Joan-Lluís Capelleras Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Ignacio Contín-Pilart INARBE, Universidad Pública de Navarra
  • Martin Larraza-Kintana INARBE, Universidad Pública de Navarra
  • Victor Martin-Sanchez King's College London



Growth aspirations, Early-stage entrepreneurship, Population density, Human capital, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)


This paper investigates the unique and joint effects of population density and early-stage entrepreneurs’ human capital endowments (higher education, entrepreneurship training and owner-manager experience) on entrepreneurial growth aspirations. We test a number of hypotheses using data that combine individual and province level information in Spain over the period 2008-2010. We argue that growth aspirations of early-stage entrepreneurs are higher in more densely populated regions, but that such environmental influence is stronger for individuals with greater human capital. This is because they will be more aware that denser regions offer more favorable conditions for new businesses and also requires greater firm growth to compensate for a higher risk of business failure. Consistent with our view, we find that the growth aspirations of entrepreneurs with higher education are higher in densely populated provinces.


Download data is not yet available.


Aguinis, Herman, James C. Beaty, Robert J. Boik, and Charles A. Pierce. 2005. “Effect size and power in assessing moderating effects of categorical variables using multiple regression: A 30-year review.” Journal of Applied Psychology 90:94-107.

Aguinis, Herman, Ryan K. Gottfredson, and Steven A. Culpepper. 2013. “Best-Practice Recommendations for Estimating Cross-Level Interaction Effects Using Multilevel Modeling.” Journal of Management 39 (6): 1490-1528.

Aguinis, Herman, Ryan K. Gottfredson, and Thomas A. Wright. 2011. “Best-practice recommendations for estimating interaction effects using meta-analysis.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 32: 1033-1043.

Aiken, Leona S., and Stephen G. West. 1991. Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, London: Sage.

Aldrich, Howard E., and Ellen R. Auster. 1986. “Even dwarfs started small: liabilities of age and size and their strategic implications.” Research in Organizational Behavior 8:165-198.

Aldrich, Howard E., and Gabriele Wiedenmayer. 1993. “From traits to rates: an ecological perspective on organizational foundings.” In Advances in entrepreneurship, firm emergence, and growth, edited by Katz, J., and R. Brockhaus, 145-195. Greenwhich, CT: JAI Press.

Alvarez, Sharon, A., and Lowell W. Busenitz. 2001. “The entrepreneurship of resource-based theory.” Journal of Management 27 (6): 755-775.

Anyadike-Danes, Michael, Mark Hart, and Maureen O’Reilly. 2005. “Watch that space! The county hierarchy in firm births & deaths in the UK, 1980–1999.” Small Business Economics 25:273-292.

Armington, Catherine, and Zoltan J. Acs. 2002. “The determinants of regional variation in new firm formation.” Regional Studies 36:33-45.

Audretsch, David B., and Michael Fritsch. 1994. “The geography of firm births in Germany.” Regional Studies 28 (4): 359-365.

Autio, Erkko, and Zoltan J. Acs. 2010. “Intellectual property protection and the formation of entrepreneurial growth aspirations.” Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal 4:234-251.

Autio, Erkko, Saurav Pathak, and Karl Wennberg. 2013. “Consequences of cultural practices for entrepreneurial behaviors.” Journal of International Business Studies 44:334-362.

Autio, Erkko, and Karl Wennberg. 2010. “You think, therefore, I become: Social attitudes and the transition to entrepreneurship.” Paper presented at the DRUID summer conference, London, June 16-18.

Batjargal, Bat. 2003. “Social capital and entrepreneurial performance in Russia: A longitudinal study.” Organization Studies 24:535-556.

Baum, J. Robert, Edwin A. Locke, and Ken G. Smith. 2001. “A multidimensional model of venture growth.” Academy of Management Journal 44 (2): 292-303.

Becker, Gary S. 1964. Human capital. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bolívar-Cruz, Alicia, Rosa M. Batista-Canino, and Esther Hormiga. 2014. “Differences in the perception and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities by immigrants.” Journal of Business Venturing Insights (1-2): 31-36.

Bonin, Holger, Werner Eichhorst, Christer Florman, Mette Okkels Hansen, Lena Skiöld, Jan Stuhler, Konstantinos Tatsiramos, Henrik Thomasen, and Klaus F. Zimmermann. 2008. “Geographic mobility in the European Union: Optimising its social and economic benefits.” IZA Research Report 19.

Bosma, Niels, and Veronique Schutjens. 2011. “Understanding regional variation in entrepreneurial activity and entrepreneurial attitude in Europe.” The Annals of Regional Science 47:711-742.

Bosma, Niels, André van Stel, and Kashifa Suddle. 2008. “The geography of new firm formation: evidence from independent start-ups and new subsidiaries in the Netherlands.” International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal 4:129–146.

Bosma, Niels, and Rolf Sternberg. 2014. “Entrepreneurship as an Urban Event? Empirical Evidence from European Cities.” Regional Studies 48:1016-1033.

Brixy, Udo, and Reinhold Grotz. 2007. “Regional patterns and determinants of birth and survival of new firms in Western Germany.” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 19:293-312.

Brush, Candida G., Patricia G. Greene, Mark Hart, and Harold S. Haller. 2001. “From initial idea to unique advantage: the entrepreneurial challenge of constructing a resource base.” Academy of Management Executive 15 (1): 64-78.

Capelleras, Joan-Lluís, and Francis J. Greene. 2008. “The determinants and growth implications of venture creation speed.” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 20 (4): 311-337.

Capelleras, Joan-Lluís, and Durim Hoxha. 2010. “Start-up size and subsequent firm growth in Kosova: the role of entrepreneurial and institutional factors.” Post-Communist Economies 22:411-426.

Capelleras, Joan-Lluís, Francis J. Greene, Hugo Kantis, and Rodrigo Rabetino. 2010. “Venture creation speed and subsequent growth: Evidence from South America.” Journal of Small Business Management 48 (3): 302-324.

Capelleras, Joan-Lluís, Ignacio Contín-Pilart, Martin Larraza-Kintana, and Victor Martin-Sanchez. 2016. “Unemployment and growth aspirations: the moderating role of education.” Strategic Change 25:169-183.

Cassar, Gavin. 2010. “Are individuals entering self-employment overly-optimistic? An empirical test of plans and projections on nascent entrepreneur expectations.” Strategic Management Journal 31 (8): 822-840.

Chatterjee, Arijit, and Donald C. Hambrick. 2007. “It's all about me: Narcissistic chief executive officers and their effects on company strategy and performance.” Administrative Science Quarterly 52:351-386.

Contín-Pilart, Ignacio, and Martin Larraza-Kintana. 2015. “Do entrepreneurial role models influence the nascent entrepreneurial activity of immigrants?” Journal of Small Business Management 53 (4): 1146-1163.

Dahl, Michael S., and Olav Sorenson. 2009. “The embedded entrepreneur.” European Management Review 6:172-181.

Davidsson, Per, Leona Achtenhagen, and Lucia Naldi. 2006. “What do we know about small firm growth?” In The life cycle of entrepreneurial ventures, edited by Parker, S., 361-398. New York: Springer.

Dencker, John, and Marc Gruber. 2014. “The Effects of Opportunities and Founder Experience on New Firm Performance.” Strategic Management Journal 36:1035-1052.

Dencker, John, Marc Gruber, and Sonali K. Shah. 2009. “Individual and opportunity factors influencing job creation in new firms.” Academy of Management Journal 52:1125-1147.

DeTienne, Dawn R., and Gaylen N. Chandler. 2004. “Opportunity identification and its role in the entrepreneurial classroom: a pedagogical approach and empirical test.” Academy of Management Learning and Education 3:242-257.

Dutta, Dev K., and Stewart Thornhill. 2008. “The evolution of growth intentions: toward a cognition-based model.” Journal of Business Venturing 23:307-332.

Estrin, Saul, Julia Korosteleva, and Tomasz Mickiewicz. 2013. “Which institutions encourage entrepreneurial growth aspirations?” Journal of Business Venturing 28:564-580.

Estrin, Saul, and Tomasz Mickiewicz. 2011. “Institutions and female entrepreneurship.” Small Business Economics 37 (4): 397-415.

Fiet, James O., and Jay Barney. 2002. The systematic search for entrepreneurial discoveries. New York: Quorum.

Figueiro, Octávio, Paulo Guimaraes, and Douglas Woodward. 2002. “Home-field advantage: locations decisions of Portuguese entrepreneurs.” Journal of Urban Economics 52:341-361.

Florin, Juan, Michael Lubatkin, and William Schulze. 2003. “A social capital model of high growth ventures.” Academy of Management Journal 46 (3): 374-384.

Forbes, Daniel P. 2005. “Managerial Determinants of Decision Speed in New Ventures.” Strategic Management Journal 26:355–366.

Foss, Nicolai J., and Peter G. Klein. 2012. Organizing entrepreneurial judgment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fotopoulos, Georgios. 2014. “On the spatial stickiness of UK new firm formation rates.” Journal of Economic Geography 14:651-679.

Frenken, Koen, and Ron A. Boschma. 2007. “A theoretical framework for evolutionary economic geography: industrial dynamics and urban growth as a branching process.” Journal of Economic Geography 7 (5): 635-649.

Fritsch Michael. 1997. “New firms and regional employment change.” Small Business Economics 9:437-448.

Fritsch, Michael, and David J. Storey. 2014. “Entrepreneurship in a regional context: Historical roots, recent developments and future challenges.” Regional Studies 48 (6): 939-954.

Goerlich Gisbert, Francisco J., and Isidro Cantarino Martí. 2015. “Estimaciones de la población rural y urbana a nivel municipal.” Estadística Española 57 (186): 5-28.

Gregoire, Denis A., Pamela S. Barr, and Dean A. Shepherd. 2010. “Cognitive processes of opportunity recognition: the role of structural alignment.” Organization Science 21:413-431.

Grichnik, Dietmar, Jan Brinckmann, Luv Singh, and Sophie Manigart. 2014. “Beyond environmental scarcity: Human and social capital as driving forces of bootstrapping activities.” Journal of Business Venturing 29:310-326.

Gruber, Marc, Sung Min Kim, and Jan Brinckmann. 2015. “What is an attractive business opportunity? An empirical study of opportunity evaluation decisions by technologists, managers, and entrepreneurs.” Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal 9:205-225.

Hofmann, David A., Mark A. Griffin, and Mark B. Gavin. 2000. “The application of hierarchical linear modeling to organizational research.” In Multilevel Theory, Research, and Methods in Organizations: Foundations, Extensions, and New Directions, edited by Klein, K. J., and S. W. J. Kozlowski, 467-511. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hundt, Christian, and Rolf Sternberg. 2014. “Explaining new firm creation in Europe from a spatial and time perspective: A multilevel analysis based upon data of individuals, regions and countries.” Papers in Regional Science 95 (2): 223-257.

Justo, Rachida, Dawn R. DeTienne, and Philipp Sieger. 2015. “Failure or voluntary exit? Reassessing the female underperformance hypothesis.” Journal of Business Venturing 30 (6): 775-792.

Keeble, David, and Sheila Walker. 1994. “New firms, small firms and dead firms: spatial patterns and determinants in the United Kingdom.” Regional Studies 28:411–427.

Kibler, Ewald. 2013. “Formation of entrepreneurial intentions in a regional context.” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 35 (3-4): 293-323.

Kibler, Ewald, Teemu Kautonen, and Matthias Fink. 2014. “Regional social legitimacy of entrepreneurship: Implications for entrepreneurial intention and start-up behaviour.” Regional Studies 48 (6): 995-1015.

Kim, Phillip, Howard E. Aldrich, and Lisa A. Keister. 2006. “Access (not) denied: The impact of financial, human, and cultural capital on entrepreneurial entry in the United States.” Small Business Economics 27 (1): 5-22.

Knight, Frank H. 1921. Risk, uncertainty and profit. New York: August M. Kelley.

Kiss, Andreea N., and Pamela S. Barr. 2015. “New venture strategic adaptation: The interplay of belief structures and industry context.” Strategic Management Journal 36:1245–1263.

Koellinger, Philipp, Maria Minniti, and Christian Schade. 2007. “I think I can, I think I can…: a study of entrepreneurial behavior.” Journal of Economic Psychology 28:502-527.

Levie, Jonathan, and Erkko Autio. 2013. Growth and growth intentions. Enterprise Research Centre White Paper.

Li, Minghao, Stephan J. Goetz, Mark Partridge, and David A. Fleming. 2016. “Location determinants of high-growth firms.” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 28 (1-2): 97-125.

Liao Jianwen, and Harold Welsch. 2005. “Roles of social capital in venture creation: key dimensions and research implications.” Journal of Small Business Management 43:345–362.

Lööf, Hans, and Pardis Nabavi. 2014. “Survival, productivity and growth of new ventures across locations.” Small Business Economics 43:477-491.

Malecki, Edward J. 1997. “Entrepreneurs, networks, and economic development: a review of recent research.” In Advances in entrepreneurship, firm emergence and growth., edited by Katz, J. A., 57-118. London: JAI Press.

Mises, Ludwig von. 1949. Human actions: A treatise on Economics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Mitchell, Ronald K., Lowell Busenitz, Theresa Lant, Patricia P. McDougall, Eric A. Morse, and J. Brock Smith. 2002. “Toward a theory of entrepreneurial cognition: Rethinking the people side of entrepreneurship research.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 27:93-104.

Mole, Kevin M., and Joan-Lluís Capelleras. 2017. “Take-up and variation of advice for new firm founders in different contexts.” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. DOI: 10.1177/2399654417691514.

Mueller Pamela, André van Stel, and David J. Storey. 2008. “The effects of new firm formation on regional development over time: the case of Great Britain.” Small Business Economics 30:59-71.

Pe’er, Aviad, Ilan Vertinsky, and Thomas Keil. 2014. “Growth and survival: The moderating effects of local agglomeration and local market structure.” Strategic Management Journal 36 (3): 541-564.

Pfeffer, Jeffrey. 1994. Competitive advantage through people. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Reynolds, Paul, Niels Bosma, Erkko Autio, Steve Hunt, Natalia De Bono, Isabel Servais, Paloma Lopez-Garcia, and Nancy Chin. 2005. “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: Data Collection Design and Implementation 1998–2003.” Small Business Economics 24:205-231.

Reynolds, Paul, David J. Storey, and Paul Westhead. 1994. “Cross-national comparisons of the variation in new firm formation rates.” Regional Studies 28 (4): 443-456.

Rotefoss, Beate, and Lars Kolvereid. 2005. “Aspiring, nascent and fledgling entrepreneurs: an investigation of the business start-up process.” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 17:109–127.

Sexton, Donald L., and Nancy Bowman. 1985. “The entrepreneur: a capable executive and more.” Journal Business Venturing 1:129-140.

Shane, Scott. 2003. A general theory of entrepreneurship: The individual-opportunity nexus. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Shane, Scott, and Sankaran Venkataraman. 2000. “The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research.” Academy of Management Review 25:217–226.

Shepherd, Dean A., and Dawn R. DeTienne. 2005. “Prior knowledge, potential financial reward, and opportunity identification.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 29:91–112.

Snijders, Tom A.B., and Roel J. Bosker. 2004. Multilevel analysis: An introduction to basic and advanced multilevel modeling. London: Sage.

Stam, Erik, Niels Bosma, Arjen van Witteloostuijn, Jeroen de Jong, Sandy Bogaert, Nancy Edwards, and Ferdinand Jaspers. 2012. Ambitious Entrepreneurship: A Review of the Academic Literature and Directions for Public Policy (1-162). Den Haag: Advisory Council for Science and Technology Policy.

Stinchcombe, Arthur L. 1965. “Social structures and organizations.” In Handbook of Organizations, edityed by March, J. G. 142-193. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Studenmund, A. H. 1997. Using Econometrics. A Practical Guide (Addison-Wesley).

Stuetzer, Michael, Martin Obschonka, Udo Brixy, Rolf Sternberg, and Uwe Cantner. 2014. “Regional characteristics, opportunity perception and entrepreneurial activities.” Small Business Economics 42:221-244.

Ter Hofstede, Frenkel, Michel Wedel, and Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp. 2002. “Identifying spatial segments in international markets.” Marketing Science 21 (2): 160-177.

Trettin, Lutz, and Friederike Welter. 2011. “Challenges for spatially oriented entrepreneurship research.” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 23 (7-8): 575-602.

Tödtling, Franz, and Herta Wanzenböck. 2003. “Regional differences in structural characteristics of start-ups.” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 15:351–370.

Ucbasaran, Deniz, Paul Westhead, and Mike Wright. 2008. “Opportunity Identification and Pursuit: Does an Entrepreneur’s Human Capital Matter?” Small Business Economics 30:153-173.

Unger, Jens M., Andreas Rauch, Michael Frese, and Nina Rosenbusch. 2011. “Human capital and entrepreneurial success: A meta-analytical review.” Journal of Business Venturing 26:341-358.

Vaillant, Yancy, and Esteban Lafuente. 2007. “Do different institutional frameworks condition the influence of local fear of failure and entrepreneurial examples over entrepreneurial activity?” Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 19:313-337.

Wagner, Joachim, and Rolf Sternberg. 2004. “Start-up activities, individual characteristics, and the regional milieu: lessons for entrepreneurship support policies from German micro data.” The Annals of Regional Science 38:219–240.

Wiklund, Johan, and Dean Shepherd. 2003. “Aspiring for, and Achieving Growth: The Moderating Role of Resources and Opportunities.” Journal of Management Studies 40:1919-1941.

Wood, Matthew S., Alexander McKelvie, and J. Michael Haynie. 2014. “Making it personal: opportunity individuation and the shaping of opportunity beliefs.” Journal of Business Venturing 29:252-272.




How to Cite

Capelleras, Joan-Lluís, Ignacio Contín-Pilart, Martin Larraza-Kintana, and Victor Martin-Sanchez. 2018. “Regional and Individual Determinants of Entrepreneurial Growth Aspirations”. Journal of Evolutionary Studies in Business 3 (1):17-53.