What drives future business leaders? How work values and gender shape young adults' entrepreneurial and leadership aspirations

Elsevier, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 107, August 2018, Pages 57-70
Authors: 
Clemens M.Lechner, Florencia M.Sortheix, MartinObschonka and Katariina Salmela-Aro

Who wants to become a business leader? We investigated whether young adults' work values (i.e., the importance placed on different job characteristics and rewards) predict their entrepreneurial aspirations (i.e., the intention to create a venture) and leadership aspirations (i.e., the intention to become a leader in a business context). Furthermore, we illuminated whether gender differences in work values contribute to the pervasive gender gap in these aspirations. Analyses in a sample of young adults from Finland (N = 1138) revealed that a higher importance placed on extrinsic rewards and a lower importance placed on security at age 21 predicted higher entrepreneurial and leadership aspirations at age 27 over and above personality, motivational, and sociodemographic factors. Additionally, a higher importance placed on social/interpersonal rewards predicted lower entrepreneurial but higher leadership aspirations; and a higher importance placed on autonomy predicted higher entrepreneurial aspirations. Gender differences in work values explained a substantial share of the gender gap in entrepreneurial and leadership aspirations. Here, men's higher endorsement of extrinsic rewards and lower endorsement of security proved most critical. These findings suggest that work values are implicated in shaping young people's aspirations to business leadership and contribute strongly to the gender gap therein.