Social Sciences
Volume 6, Issue 1, February 2017, Pages: 1-6

 Review Article

Study of the Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory for the Entrepreneurship Learning Process

Luluk Tri Harinie1, *, Achmad Sudiro2, Mintarti Rahayu2, Achmad Fatchan3

1Department of Management, Economics and Bussiness Faculty, Palangka Raya University, Palangka Raya, Indonesia

2Economics and Business Faculty, Brawijaya University, Malang, Indonesia

3Mathematics and Natural Science Faculty, Malang State University, Malang, Indonesia

Email address:

(L. T. Harinie)

*Corresponding author

To cite this article:

Luluk Tri Harinie, Achmad Sudiro, Mintarti Rahayu, Achmad Fatchan. Study of the Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory for the Entrepreneurship Learning Process. Social Sciences. Vol. 6, No. 1, 2017, pp. 1-6. doi: 10.11648/

Received: January 4, 2017; Accepted: January 19, 2017; Published: February 23, 2017

Abstract: This paper aims to study the Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory as a basis for understanding the learning process of entrepreneurship to foster individuals’interest in entrepreneurship through family role model. Through this study are expected to be able to observe the behavior of entrepreneurship displayed by models, and can add insight and knowledge in the entrepreneurship field. Bandura's theory emphasizes the continuous reciprocal interaction between the factors of individuals’ behavior (cognitive) and environmental influences in understanding social cognitive learning process. Therefore, learning in this theory is more aimed at observational learning and the process set of the four interrelated components: attentional processes, retention processes, motor reproduction processes, and motivational processes. The fourth component is the one used in the process of entrepreneurship learning to cultivate individuals’ interest in entrepreneurship.

Keywords: Social Cognitive Learning Theory, Interest in Entrepreneurship, Attentional Processes, Retention Processes, Motor Reproduction Processes, Motivational Processes

1. Introduction

In the process, human behavior is not an innate behavior. Psychologists argue that human behavior is formed as a result of the interaction of environmental factors, both external and internal environment. Therefore, the behavior of individuals is an activity that is also influenced by the external environment, as well as with the behavior of entrepreneurs. This behavior is not innate but are driven by the emergence of interest in starting entrepreneurs grow and develop in accordance with the factors that influence it. This opinion was reinforced by Bygrave (2003) [7] who states that the decision to entrepreneurship growth is influenced by the result of the interaction between the personality traits of a person with his/her environment. Furthermore, the research results by Lambing and Kuehl (2007) [16] suggest that there are four elements that affect the decision to entrepreneurship, namely the behavior of individuals, cultural environment, social conditions, and the combination of all three.

But be aware that individual’s behavior always has a certain background, focused on specific objectives, and has a relationship with the environment, so they can change if they relate to an individual effort to meet its needs in interaction with the environment. This is where individuals need to make the learning process to acquire new behaviors in order to meet these needs. The learning process is very important for the development of the individual, where the individual will undergo a process to a better direction. Learning outcomes can be shaped in the form of behavioral changes in knowledge or skills, and mastery of the values of attitude.

Furthermore, the learning process in changing individuals’ behavior can be done through self-experience, learn from others, or learn from their surroundings. Bell (2015) [4] believes that learning process will be successful if it is implemented in the form of learning activity. It means learning experience itself or by doing exercises alone. This form of learning activities is believed can improve individual’s interest to do entrepreneurs and finally will behave entrepreneur. Bell (2015) [4] also states that learning from experience will provide an opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills.

Referring to what have been stated, implied the importance of the learning process not only for the development of individual’s behavior but also for growing interest in entrepreneurship. It is believed that more interest in entrepreneurship will appear if there is a stimulation of kin background in entrepreneurship as the earliest social environment and may influence individual’s attitudes to entrepreneurship, which in this case is a role model for entrepreneurship.

Kuttim, et al. (2014) [15] state that having parental background in entrepreneurship is positively associate with the interest in entrepreneurship. Kuttim et al opinion is supported by Hisrich, et al. (2005) [12] and Alma (2013) [1] who belive that family environment may effect the individual’s interest in entrepreneurship. A successful entrepreneur may raised by parents who are also entrepreneurs, as have many extensive experiences in the business world (Duchesneau, et al., 1990) [11]. Family members not only facilitate business activities, but also provide manpower and affective support (Huei, et al., 2015) [14]. Bala and Nizam (2015) [3] show the role of parents as the closest individual’s relatives affects business decision making in the family, where eventually can affect individual’s behavior. Surya (2014) [22] also expressed that family is the earliest social environment for individuals in providing significant influence for the development of the individual. In addition, through the interaction of the older generation and the younger generation's involvement in the family continuesly on the business activities will transmit the culture of entrepreneurship from the older to the younger one (Cruz, et al., 2012) [9].

Many theories have discussed the learning theory, but this research will be more focused on the social cognitive learning theory of Bandura which associated with entrepreneurship learning process for the interest in entrepreneurship as study materials. There are two reasons why this theory used in this research. First, this theory is supported by research conducted by Boz and Ergeneli (2013) [5] who suggest that most entrepreneurial researchers use Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory as a review of the literature, especially related to the family's role in shaping entrepreneurship interest of individuals, which in theory the exhibited model’s behavior is important to create interest and experience in enterpreneurship. Second, this theory is still rarely discussed in depth by researchers eventhough this theory is very useful to add insight and knowledge for researchers in the field of entrepreneurship.

2. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory

Actually, learning theory is a set of principles systematically and based reasoning is intended for a conceptual framework and have been tested empirically in providing an explanation and problem solving in the learning phenomenon [20]. In this case, the learning phenomenon in question is caused by changes in individual behavior in its interaction with the environment in an effort to meet the needs and achieve its objectives, so as to obtain a better quality of life and effective.

Recognizing the importance of learning for individuals, this study refers to Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory. This theory is an expansion of the flow of behaviorism and is considered relatively new compared to other learning theories. Bandura uses the principles of classical conditioning and conditioning role in understanding the learning by the individuals. In the next part of this research, we will discuss the basic principles and the lessons learned from this theory.

2.1. Basic Principles of Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory

Bandura’s social cognitive theory is an extension of the behaviorism theory that emphasizes the importance of behavioral factors, environmental, and individual (cognitive) in the learning process [10], [8], [12]. Hjelle and Ziegler (1992) [13] state that the most important physiological functions and is believed to be understood in Bandura’s learning theory is the emphasis on continuous reciprocal interaction between these three factors. Behavior can affect cognitive and vice versa individual cognitive activities can affect the environment, environmental influences can alter individual thought processes, and so on. This interaction can be seen in the Figure 1 below.

Source: Santrock (2012)

Figure 1. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory.

Recognizing the importance of reciprocal relationships that occur between the behavior, the individual (cognitive), and the environmental influences in understanding how individuals learn, Bandura in this case, puts the main emphasis on observational learning. Bandura considers the individual learning is done not only through their own experience but also through the process of observation, namely selectively observing and considering the current behavior model [20] and [10]. It is important by individuals to acquire the skills, strategies, and beliefs. Slavin (2008) [19] adds that the principle of this theory reveals how self-observation of the surroundings can influence behavior and cognitive within the individuals.

According to Bandura, observational study involves an impersonation, but is not limited to it. That is, what is learned is not an exact imitation to what was observed on the model, but rather a general form that would do people in ways that are more creative [19]. Hence, learning theory proposed by Bandura called social cognitive theory of learning through imitation. In this regard, there are three underlying assumptions [21]. First, learning by individuals to imitate what is in their environment, especially the behaviors displayed by models. Second, there is a close relationship between the individual and his/her environment. Learning occurs through linkage between the behavior, the individual (cognitive), and the environment. Third, the outcome of learning behavior code form visually and verbally manifested in everyday behavior.

The existence of these assumptions make clearer the individual cognitive processes that play a role in learning, whereas learning occurs due to the influence of the social environment. Individuals will observe the behavior in the environment as a model, then the behavior of the model is imitated and become their behaviors. Bandura in [19] stated that when the individual do the learning, it turns individuals cognitively able to present or transform experiences.

Finally, individual’s behavior will be formed through imitation of the behavior in the environment as a model, while learning is a process of how impersonation happens to be in conformity with his situation and objectives. Bandura in [12] also stated that almost all learning phenomena resulting from direct experience occurs through observation of the others’ behaviors (behavioral model).

2.2. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Process

Bandura (1977) [2] revealed that the learning process is an exhausting, inefficient, and potentially dangerous if rely on the results of the own action / behavior to deliver what should be demonstrated. Therefore, the majority of individual behavior was studied by observational learning through imitation of modeling. In the future, this information is symbolized by intent as a guide for action, because the individuals doing the learning of what models demonstrate, at least in the form of an estimate before doing any behavior. In this way, individuals can avoid unnecessary errors.

Bandura's social cognitive learning process observationally by imitation occurs in three components, namely behavioral models, behavior of the model influences and internal processes of learning [21]. Individuals make the learning process to recognize the model behavior (imitated behavior), then consider and decide to emulate and become their behavior. In this case, the behavior of the model is known behavior in the environment. If the behavior of the model corresponds to the individuals’ situation (interests, experiences, goals), then the behavior of the model will be imitated. Influence modeling for the learning process in this theory mainly through the informative function of the model itself [2].

Conceptually, Bandura's social cognitive learning process illustrated schematically in Figure 2. The Figure shows there are four interrelated components, namely attentional processes, retention processes, motor reproduction processes, and motivational processes [2], [12], [23], and [20].

Source: Bandura (1977); Hjelle and Ziegier (1992)

Figure 2. Component Processes Governing Observational Learning.

Here is the explanation:

1.  Attentional Processes ((The first cognitive learning process). At this stage, individuals pay attention to the behavior in the environment primarily modeled behavior or imitated behavior. Therefore, the individuale do not just look at the model and what does s/he do in the process of learning through observation, but individuals must present to feel themselves properly and significantly the prominent behavior and are characteristic of the model’s behavior. This phase selectively determine what is observed and what they can expect from the model’s influence, so that involves the observer’s characteristics, involves the activities carried out by the model itself, and involves a structural rearrangement in human interaction, as well as the number and type of experience in observation.

Furthermore, Bandura showed various determinants in attentional processes that affect modeling, as associational patterns that are very important. It means that with whom the model regularly interact will limit the types of behavior that is observed and for the learning process as a whole. Attached-functional values to the displayed behavior by different models, are very influential in determining the observed model and ignored model. Models can also be considered through the appeal presented by interpersonal models. Hence, a model that has interested quality will be sought, but a less fun model will be ignored or denied. The models feature high competence were considered by experts tend to receive greater attention.

Various characteristics that cause the model is considered to have an intrinsic value and beneficial in the long term may increase the likelihood of prudence in determining who becomes a model to be observed.

2.  Retention Processes (The second cognitive learning process). At this stage, individuals mimicked the displayed models’ behavior. This implies that individuals keep in memory and symbolize information from displayed behavior shown by models, so that the individual will acquire the models’ behavior. Individuals will not be influenced by the behavior of the model through observation, if the individuals do not remember it. In order individuals can gain benefit from the models’ behavior that may not present again to be observed, then the response pattern should be represented to be stored in memory in the form of a symbol (code). Therefore, the experience of modeling can be maintained in memory permanently through symbols.

The process of learning through observation of the models’ behavior in this stage is depent on two systems of the internal representation, namely (1) Imaginal coding, where individuals who observed stimulation modeling will undergo conditioning process sensory produces images that are relatively enduring and easily obtained from what have been seen. The result is a mental-formed image, hence every references towards the previously observed events would immediately call like the live image or images of involved physical stimulation; (2) Verbal coding, where individuals at the same time watching a model, they also studied what does the model do. This illustrates that the encoded symbols can be trained internally without a clear understanding of the purpose behavior’s enactment. Furthermore, Bandura (1977) [2] stated that observational learning is greatly facilitated by verbal symbols, because the symbol can carry enough information in a form that is easyly stored. After the activity being modeled has been transformed into the image and verbal symbols that can be easily used, the symbol of this memory will serve as a guide for the performance.

3.  Motor Reproduction Processes (The third cognitive learning process). At this stage, individuals show motoric capabilities in order to reproduce the behavior appropriately. Motoric abilities are able to transform the memory-shaped symbols that are coded into appropriate action. Despite the fact that the individuals have been careful establish and maintain a mental picture of the models’ behavior, and have trained numerous times about the models’ behavior that allows the individuals to perform the behavior correctly. This is especially true for highly skilled motoric actions which in practice requires a lot of feedback from the individuals to form a skillful performance. If observers want to enhance the the models’ behavior, then it is important to practice the models’ behavior persistently in motoric movements and in corrective adjustment on the basis of informative feedback. Lastly, by observing and deliberately doing exercises against certain behaviors, individuals can facilitate the learning process, at least can start the necessary movements based on what was observed previously.

4.  Motivational Processes (The fourth cognitive learning process). This stage determines the success of the learning process. This implies whether the obeserved results, remember (store) information in memory, and translating the motoric skills of behavioral models into appropriate action are highly dependent on the motivation or existed willingness, and gain amplifier on the modeled behavior. Thus, individuals will mimic the behavior of the model.

In this context, Bandura showed that no matter how many people present and maintain modeled behaviors or how far individuals’ ability to perform the modeled behavior, the individuals would not have done it without enough motivation to do so or without being given a booster or incentives which are interesting. There are four types of boosters that can help if people do not mimic the modeled behavior, namely (1) giving awards to the model, (2) giving awards to the individuals, (3) recommend the individuals to make statements that are self-reinforcing, and (4) show how the modeled behavior brings reinforced results.

Keep in mind that the learning process by imitation of the modeled behavior will be affected by several factors. First, the model that has compatibility with individuals will be more likely to be imitated. Second, the model can give more prestige for individuals who emulate. Third, the quality feeling of satisfaction that is induced or felt by individuals by imitating the behavior of the model.

3. Observational Learning Process for Entrepreneurial Interests

It has been previously revealed that the the learning theory that occurs in individuals in the Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory is through imitation of the behavior in the environment as a model. That is, an environment where individuals are and interact will affect the pattern and quality of growth and development of individual behavior. Similarly, if the individuals are in an enterpreneur family environment, they have a tendency to follow the footsteps of their family entrepreneurship. Therefore, it is crucial for individuals to directly see and observe the entrepreneurial activities indicated by family as role models for entrepreneurship in their daily life in a place of business. In addition, individuals also continuously involve in business activities conducted by their relatives or families. This individual’s involvement is believed to further accelerate the success of the process of learning entrepreneurship through imitation of model’s behavior and may develop individual’s interest in entrepreneurship.

In fact, the behavioral models in the individuals’ environment oontinues providing or issueing a stimulus for a reaction in the form of response. These responses that would later be studied by individuals using observational way (cognitive processes) towards the behavior demonstrated by models to increase individual's interest on something. While the interest itself simply means something arises the concern or curiosity of a person [6]. This indicates what the individual want to do or what people like or wish. This implies that the interest depends on internal factors, such as the concentration of attention, curiosity, motivation, and needs [19].

Based on the above explanations, it is necessary for individuals to make observations on themselves toward surrounding environment that will ultimately affect the individual’s behavior and cognition. Therefore, the individual initially observe (cognitive processes) surrounding environment (social) selectively and further remember (cognitive processes) entrepreneurial behavior demonstrated by models. Is expected that by doing these activities, the individuals can create an interest in entrepreneurship. In more detail, the explanation of the Bandura’s social cognitive learning processes by means of observation through imitation of the model’s behavior in relation to the individual’s interest in entrepreneurship are described as the followings:

a.  Starting with attentional processes (the first cognitive learning process). In this stage, individuals will be watching with attention on entrepreneurial activities that whatever model is demonstrated. The model is a parent whose background was entrepreneurial. This process requires the involvement of individuals, so that they must be with parents in the business place, where this will facilitate the success of the process. The activities were observed and considered is the parent activity when starting business activities in the morning until ending the entrepreneurial activity in the afternoon. For instance, how parents’ behavior when dividing the tasks on their servants, how parents determine the merchandise’s price, how parents’ behavior in arranging merchandise, how parents’ behavior in selling goods to market, and how parents’ behavior in reordering goods that have been sold. Such activities which were exhibited by parents mainly dealing with customers are not merely to be heard, but should be observed and considered by the individuals as their own experience.

b.  After the process of observing and considering, individuals will experience the second learning process which is called retention processes. Entrepreneurial activities demonstrated by parents and have been obesrved and considered by individuals, will be further stored in the memory with a symbolic form to be remembered, so that individuals can obtain the parents’ behavior. It is necessary to demonstrate entrepreneurial activity directly at the business place, because individuals can remember better than just telling individuals to engage entrepreneurial activities. Hence, the individual in this process involved directly in the form of training in entrepreneurship and parents must give a very clear and detail explanation to facilitate individuals in remembering it. In addition, through the training activities, individuals will receive a verbal overview of entrepreneurial activities that facilitate individuals to use them again. Such activities could be individuals participate to memorize merchandise’s price, involve in sales transactions, involved in determining the type and quantity of goods to be reordered.

c.   Furthermore, the individuals will experience the the third learning process called the motor reproduction processes. In this process, individuals demonstrate their capabilities with motoric movements precisely mimic the the models’ behavior in relation to the entrepreneurship activities in the business place. This means that individuals have gained entrepreneurial skills and drills after practicing at the business place. In this process, without parents’ help, the individual is able to repeat the activities in arranging merchandise, is able to memorize of any merchandise’s price by showing to consumers correctly, is independently capable in dealing with consumers, and is able to order and determine the necessary goods.

d.  Finally, success in imitation which is shown in real behavior of individuals is very dependent on the fourth cognitive learning process called the motivational processes. In this process, individuals imitate the models’ behavior as their own behavior. when individuals are motivated or have the will to carry out entrepreneurship activity. Raising motivation can be done by providing an amplifier with individual expectations become interested in entrepreneurship. This step is also popular as self-regulation which refers to the process in which individuals control and direct their activities [17]. For example, individuals are given the ease to obtain capital, given the ease of obtaining merchandise, promised to always help if they encounter difficulties in entrepreneurship, giving a bonus if they reache sales targets, receive discounts when they purchase merchandise in the certain quantity, and soon.

These four cognitive learning processes that occurs within the individual involves social environment around the individual. In this case, exhibited entrepreneurial behavior is the behavior of the parents (next of kin) as role models for entrepreneurship that can be easily observed and remembered by individuals, so it allows the imitation of behavior, especially the entrepreneurial behaviors. It is expected that by following those four steps and fully understood by the individual in regards to the social cognitive learning process offered by Bandura will increasingly clear that individuals will be more interested in entrepreneurship. The social cognitive learning processes can not also be separated from mutual interaction effect of the three factors (environmental, individual, and behavior).

4. Conclusion

Growth and development of the individual's behavior are continuesly change. Growth and development associate with individual efforts to meet the needs and achieve its objectives to obtain a better quality of life and effective. To achieve the expected behavior, it takes a process of learning through self experience, learn from others, and learn from the surrounding environment. Likewise with the behavior of individual entrepreneurship can be formed through a learning process. The learning process of entrepreneurship refers to the Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory, where this theory is an important literature particularly with regard to the role of the family in shaping entrepreneurship interest of individuals, especially those related to the behavior of role models which demonstrated that an important factor in creating interest and self experience.

Exhibited behavior role model will be studied by observational learning, for example selectively observing and considering the current behavior models. Observational learning process itself is governed by four interrelated components, namely attentional processes, retention processes, motoric reproduction processes, and motivational processes. By understanding the four components in the observational learning process, it appears that the social cognitive approach has made an important contribution in educating people in growing interest in entrepreneurship. This approach also has significantly expanded the emphasis of learning behavior include cognitive and social factors.


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