Stellenbosch University: Coaching and mentoring contribute to entrepreneurial self-efficacy

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The first phase of a study that aims to contribute towards improved entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial development practice and theory, was launched during the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences’ recent Research Day symposium.

The Research Day symposium invited academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and PhD candidates to submit abstracts for oral or poster presentations to celebrate and showcase the Faculty’s growing research culture.

The study, by JP Cronjé of Stellenbosch Business School, explored how the unique and dynamic attributes of coaching and mentoring can be integrated to contribute to the development of the Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy (ESE) of the survival-driven entrepreneur during the early stages of entrepreneurship.

ESE is a multi-dimensional construct that can be defined as a combination of the entrepreneur’s self-confidence to execute certain tasks, as well as the ability to develop the required business and behavioural competencies to effectively function in the domain of entrepreneurship. ESE can be developed and both coaching and mentoring have been identified as its individual-level antecedents However, no theoretically underpinned integrated development framework exists for coaches and mentors that could contribute to the ESE development of the survivalist-driven entrepreneur during the early stages of entrepreneurship.

Said Cronjé: “South Africa’s dire economic conditions, worsened by Covid-19 and a lack of opportunities, often force people to choose entrepreneurship in order to survive. We find that these people often have lower levels of confidence because of their lack of qualifications and experience. They also often come from previous failures. Self-efficacy can obviously develop confidence in entrepreneurs which is particularly relevant in the early stages of the business. We therefore need to convert intention to action. Their dilemma highlights the need for development interventions that can equip them as entrepreneurs.

“There is therefore an opportunity to explore how we can improve the contribution of coaches and mentors towards the development of entrepreneurs. The purpose of the study is thus to look at the different contributions of coaching and mentoring with the aim to develop an integrated coaching and mentoring approach towards the development of a specific construct.”

The study, conducted during Covid-19 in 2021, sampled the experiences of 12 survival-driven entrepreneurs and nine entrepreneurial coaches and mentors who have experience of coaching and mentoring survival-driven entrepreneurs during the early stages of entrepreneurship.

The findings showed that coaching contributes mainly to a facilitative, conceptual exploratory approach which contributes to behavioural competence by activating regulatory processes. Mentoring takes a more directive and knowledge-sharing approach, which predominantly contributes to the development of management skills, competencies and activated cognitive processes such as business management, and skills development.

Cronjé said he aims to integrate the unique attributes of the coaching and mentoring frameworks.

“I’m currently in the process of testing the conceptual framework and I am looking at how I can integrate the processes into a single framework for coaches and mentors to use when they work with entrepreneurs to develop entrepreneurial self-efficacy.”

Cronjé added that the study could also enhance the coaching and mentoring body of knowledge and make a practical developmental contribution in the specific context of the survival-driven entrepreneurs in South Africa and emerging markets during the early stages of entrepreneurship.

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