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Entrepreneurial change in government-led development: Ethiopian universities

Huub L.M. Mudde (Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht, The Netherlands)
Meine Pieter van Dijk (Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht, The Netherlands) (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Dugassa Tessema Gerba (Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Alemfrie Derese Chekole (Tiret Corporate, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 22 January 2019

Issue publication date: 23 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is answer the research question to what extent Ethiopian universities can be considered to be entrepreneurial and explains possible differences among these universities.


The paper is inspired by a mixed methods study at nine universities in Ethiopia applying the entrepreneurial university framework of the European Commission/OECD: a content analysis of university policy and educational documents, a structured survey with 203 respondents, in particular staff and students, and in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 223 people comprising university top-management, faculty, students and external stakeholders.


Findings indicate that entrepreneurial activities in Ethiopian universities are at their infant stage with limited differences among the universities. The universities are operating in a top-down, central governmental-led development that is not enabling entrepreneurial behaviour at the level of the individual institutions. The paper argues that within this context, leadership is the lever for an entrepreneurial turn at the universities.

Social implications

Entrepreneurship development is a priority in many African countries as an instrument for employability of the predominant young populations towards which universities are expected to contribute considerably. The study highlights the tension between a strong say of the government in university operations and creating an autonomous, integrated entrepreneurial culture.


The results of this study have relevance for the higher education community in terms of understanding the complexity of transforming institutions into more entrepreneurial organisations in Africa. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, there is no previous study that examines entrepreneurial characteristics of several universities in Ethiopia.



L.M. Mudde, H., van Dijk, M.P., Gerba, D.T. and Chekole, A.D. (2019), "Entrepreneurial change in government-led development: Ethiopian universities", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 387-402.



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