Original Research

Understanding the individual in personal initiative action-based entrepreneurial interventions

André G. van der Walt, Kerrin Myres
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 16, No 1 | a731 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v16i1.731 | © 2024 André G. van der Walt, Kerrin Myres | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 March 2023 | Published: 09 February 2024

About the author(s)

André G. van der Walt, Department of Doctoral Research, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa
Kerrin Myres, Department of Doctoral Research, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Entrepreneurship is an important driving force for economic development in emerging economies, traditionally driven by ineffective top-down approaches. A recent bottom-up approach incorporating personal initiative (PI) into action-based interventions offered a more sustainable way to stimulate African entrepreneurial growth.

Aim: The study is interested in how these interventions work during training, for whom and in what way. Therefore, a deduced programme theory was constructed from literature and was empirically evaluated.

Setting: The investigation focussed on rural communities in the Mopani region of South Africa near Polokwane and Tzaneen in Limpopo province. Two large central hubs characterise these areas, with several rural villages scattered around them.

Methods: A multiple case study strategy cast in a realist evaluation design was used to investigate two interventions consisting of female entrepreneurs to produce qualitative data that were analysed inductively to make sense of change and the learning in these interventions. Entrepreneurs were selected through case selection, and trustworthiness in the data was established by focussing on post hoc and verification strategies during and after the research process.

Results: The findings produced valuable insights visually presented in analytical frameworks that show adjustments to the PI deduced programme theory.

Conclusion: On an individual level, it showed how unique attitudes guide action-formation, situational and transformational mechanisms that support outcome patterns in the context of these interventions.

Contribution: Three propositions were developed to be tested in future studies to continue discussing entrepreneurs and their learning behaviours to increase entrepreneurial action and nurture the entrepreneurial mindset.


personal initiative interventions; action regulation theory; deduced programme theory; entrepreneurial action; entrepreneurial mindset; experiential learning; realist evaluation.

JEL Codes

D01: Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles; I25: Education and Economic Development; M13: New Firms • Startups

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 1: No poverty


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