Students and Entrepreneurship: A Comparative Study of France and the United States

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This research paper analyzes the differences in sensibility regarding the creation of enterprises among French and American students. The research measures not only students’ intentions to start up an enterprise but also their attitudes toward the creation of an enterprise, their perceptions of social norms and their feelings of being able to manage the entrepreneurial process. The research compares their beliefs in order to identify differences and similarities. The paper analyzes the professional values of students (i.e. the professional characteristics which they value), their vision of entrepreneurship (the needs they think will be satisfied by entrepreneurship), and their degree of confidence in their capabilities to properly manage tasks deemed critical to starting a new business via the entrepreneurial process. Descriptive and data analyses are run on the results of a questionnaire administrated to 272 American students enrolled in marketing and management classes at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University (GA) and 340 French students, studying economics and management at the Université Pierre Mendès France (Grenoble 2). The results show that the intention to start up a company is stronger in the US than in France, and show important differences in beliefs. Taking into consideration the whole sample, first we have control beliefs, and then, behavioral beliefs, which explain students’ entrepreneurship intentions. We thus characterize three clusters of students with homogeneous entrepreneurship behaviors. Because nationality clearly comes to light, we pursue the analyses separately for each country and we describe, in this way, three typical behaviors for each.