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The ecological approach to construct entrepreneurship education: a systematic literature review

Jingjing Lin (Center for IT-based Education, Toyohashi University of Technology, Toyohashi, Japan)
Jiayin Qin (Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)
Thomas Lyons (Gary W. Rollins College of Business, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
Hiroko Nakajima (Graduate School of Management, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)
Satoshi Kawakatsu (Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)
Tomoki Sekiguchi (Graduate School of Management, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)

Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2053-4604

Article publication date: 20 April 2022

Issue publication date: 20 November 2023




The research effort on entrepreneurship education has been mainly for the higher education settings and on the individual level of analysis. On the contrary, this research urges scholars to expedite attention to the secondary education settings, especially in the emerging economies in Asia and Africa. This paper aims to reveal the existing landscape of literature development on the topic and promote ecological approaches of constructing entrepreneurship education programs in schools. It advocates the “incubator” role of schools for students and the necessity of establishing socially embedded entrepreneurship education as the playground for future entrepreneurs.


This study followed the systematic literature review as its research design. It obtained 1,555 publications from six academic databases and 60 more publications from expert consulting and backward snowballing technique. Data screening resulted in a total of 101 relevant publications with the upper secondary education as their research context. The qualitative integrative synthesis method was then applied to integrate research evidence to the five circles of systems according to Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory.


This study contributes to the entrepreneurship education and youth career development literature, especially in the developing countries. Results discovered that entrepreneurship education programs, when interacting with ecological systems, resulted in training success. The most frequently studied systems were microsystems; here, there was a dominant focus on program-level reporting and analyzing. There was less focus on other systems such as mesosystems, exosystems or macrosystems. Moreover, only one study was associated with chronosystems, suggesting a significant research gap regarding the longitudinal studies. However, this review validated the different approaches to delivering entrepreneurship education in emerging and developed economies.

Research limitations/implications

One limitation of this research lies in the methodology. The inclusion criteria limited the studies to the context of upper secondary education and excluded those of secondary education in general. The sampling method limited the power of this research to analyze and discuss policy-level studies because policies most likely embrace the whole secondary education level as its target. Another limitation is associated with the lack of experimental studies in assessing the comparative advantages of following the ecological approach when constructing entrepreneurship education. It, therefore, remains an undiscussed matter within this study regarding whether following the ecological approach means empirically a better educational choice or not.

Practical implications

This study discusses the implications for policymakers, especially in emerging economies, and suggests that awareness, attention and funding are needed to empower youth entrepreneurship education from an ecological systems view.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research is one of few studies that use the ecological systems theory in the context of entrepreneurship education with the purpose of focusing on environment-level analysis instead of individual-level analysis. Through the systematic literature review, this study proposes an ecological approach to comprehend, guide, evaluate and improve the design and implementation of entrepreneurship education programs in schools based on well-articulated research evidence. The research can inform both researchers and educators by offering a holistic perspective to observe and evaluate entrepreneurship education programs and their levels of social connectedness.



The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. This work was supported by the JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowships for Research in Japan (Grant number: P19779); the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Grant number: 19F19779); the New Teacher Startup Support Funding at the Toyohashi University of Technology.


Lin, J., Qin, J., Lyons, T., Nakajima, H., Kawakatsu, S. and Sekiguchi, T. (2023), "The ecological approach to construct entrepreneurship education: a systematic literature review", Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Vol. 15 No. 6, pp. 1333-1353.



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