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Developing entrepreneurial and employability attributes through marketing projects with SMEs

Simon O’Leary (Faculty of Business and Management, Regent’s University London, London, UK)

Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1471-5201

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




This research aims to assess how marketing-related projects with small- and medium-size enterprises act as a form of experiential learning and help develop entrepreneurial and employability attributes for students in higher education (HE).


The research is based on published material and an evaluation, within HE, of consultancy projects as a final assessment option alongside the well-established dissertation.


External initiatives that embrace experiential learning have helped students develop a better appreciation of client needs, while enhancing their confidence and team-working skills. The institutional degree programme studied is in its seventh year and more than half of students have chosen the project option so far. One key finding is the pivotal role of the academic supervisor and a need for that person to have suitable industry and sector knowledge, as well as effective and empathetic client relationship management abilities.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to one programme at one university but, as it encompasses a very broad definition of marketing-related activities, covers several years and is part of a longer-term longitudinal study, it constitutes research from which some conclusions can be drawn.

Practical implications

In addition to enhancing the students’ entrepreneurial and employability attributes, outward-facing activities help enrich the overall student experience and also offer HE institutions an opportunity to raise their profile with external organisations.

Social implications

With graduate employability rising in importance, initiatives such as these can help develop important graduate attributes and capabilities.


The principal originality and value is that this is a starting point for a potential longitudinal study of the impact of experiential learning and client-orientated projects on graduate career development.



O’Leary, S. (2017), "Developing entrepreneurial and employability attributes through marketing projects with SMEs", Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 77-90.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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