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Entrepreneurs Experience and Firm Innovativeness:

Updated: Apr 4, 2018

Multiple Mediation of Attitudinal and Behavioral Competencies

Bernard Nassiuma, Jamin Masinde Masasabi, Denyse Snelder, Anne Nangulu

School of Business and Economics, Department of Entrepreneurship Studies, Moi University, Kenya. Email:

Department of Sociology & Psychology. Moi University, Kenya. Email.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The Netherlands. Email:

Commission of University Education and Moi University. Department of History


This study was anchored on a postpositivism paradigm and the Theory of perceived attributes and individual innovativeness, regarding the multiple serial mediations of attitudinal and behavioral competencies in the relationship between the entrepreneurs’ experience and firm innovativeness. To test the hypothesized relationship a cross-sectional design and qualitative approach were employed. The study drew on a sample of 698 Micro and Small-scale entrepreneurs in Western Kenya. Questionnaires were the main data collection tools. Results indicate that entrepreneurial attitudinal and behavioral competencies had a mediating effect on the relationship between the entrepreneurs' experience and firm innovativeness among adult women entrepreneurs while among youth men were partial mediation. The direct effect of entrepreneurial experience on the level of innovativeness was significant for youth respondents but not adult women respondents. This study identifies entrepreneurial attitudinal and behavioral competencies as critical inputs for enhancing firm innovativeness hence, appropriate supportive policies and programmes are required.


Innovation is perceived to be highly developed in developed countries in comparison to the developing world (Szirmai, Naudé and Goedhu 2011). However, innovation is an activity which entrepreneurs engage in all the time in the course of running a firm. Szirmai, Naudé, & Goedhu, (2011) argues that not all entrepreneurs are innovative at the same level, neither are firms managed and owned by entrepreneurs are more innovative. Continuous learning is considered to be important is sustaining industrial knowledge and experiences (Wang 2016), which can result in firm innovativeness. Apart from being highly knowledgeable, experienced, and skilled entrepreneurs, also require highly skilled laborers (Szirmai, Naudé and Goedhu 2011). This implies that human capital is important in the successful operation of a firm. The success of firm demand innovativeness in order to provide competitive value.

In order to upscale, the capacity required for innovative behavior appropriate government interventions and policies, with respect to the operation of markets is vital especially in investment in knowledge and innovation. If the system of innovation is weak then, fewer efforts of individual entrepreneurs will not contribute to accelerated economic development (Goedhuys and Srholec 2010). Adequate innovation performance requires sound policies and appropriate institutions (Szirmai, Naudé and Goedhu 2011). This aspect impacts directly on the existence of not only entrepreneurship policies in a given country but also on innovation policies. A proper investment in education, labor skills, and human capital is vital for the creation of an innovative population (Szirmai, Naudé and Goedhu 2011).

An entrepreneurs’ innovative ability is key in the entrepreneurial process given that creation of value is tied to one’s ability to innovate hence beat the competition. Innovation is widely recognized as an important variable in creating a competitive advantage and driving economic growth globally. Innovation is also a relatively vague concept, yet its absence results in stagnation and loss of competitive behaviors among firms. Innovativeness is a characteristic of individuals as well as organizations (Ikhlaq Sidhu et al., 2016). Hence, an appropriate orientation of individuals and the firm are vital inputs in the innovative process.

Entrepreneurial characteristics have an impact on the innovative capability of a company (Omerzel, 2016). Firm innovativeness can foster the ability of enterprises to survive the turbulent business landscape and contribute to venture a success. Firm innovation is, therefore, core to economic development and social well-being in an economy yet, context specific. According to the Republic of Kenya (2012), innovation in firms is a tool for economic development through enhancing productivity. The Kenya vision 2030 focuses on anchoring adoption of science and technology and innovation as key tools in the economic development process.

There are limited studies in the developing context of the entrepreneurial profile, competencies, and firm innovativeness. However, the entrepreneur's profile seems to play a central role in the innovation process (O’Brien 2015). In addition, a definition of firm innovativeness remains a complex concept in the African context. In most cases, studies on direct relationships in entrepreneurship have been attempted, but not on serial multiple interactive effects hence, the need for this study.

(Please download the full paper to read more)



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