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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Entrepreneurship Education and Training
Entrepreneurship Education and Training
Colette Henry, Frances Hill and Claire LeitchAshgateAldershotISBN 0 7546 3215 6
Despite a burgeoning literature on the theme of training and development in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) conceptual fuzziness remains. What are the definitive characteristics of something called an SME? Size would be an obvious answer. Beyond this, however, and in relation to such factors as industrial sector, type of work process, product markets and inter-institutional relations, definitive characteristics are much harder to pinpoint. It is little surprise, then, that learning in such organizations is similarly “problematic”. Similar difficulties are attendant on the notion of entrepreneur. Again as soon as one moves away from the most rudimentary definition one moves into hot water. And as with the case of the SME this definitional laxity presents real probelms for the question of education and learning in, and in relation to, the workplace.
This book is an investigation into “entrepreneurship” education and training. To their credit the authors seek to locate their study in a thorough theoretical discussion of “entrepreneurship”. This is the focus of the first part of the book. Chapters 1-4 lay the theoretical foundation for the empirical work by reviewing the origins of the field in an attempt to clarify the process of entrepreneurship. The differences between entrepreneurship education and training are highlighted. Thus, the question of whether entrepreneurship can, in fact, be taught is raised. One need look no further than the UK governments’ s efforts to promote “enterprise” in higher education to see considerable uncertainty evident in terms of the relation between enterprise, entrepreneurship, business skills, personal transferable skills and interpersonal skills.
Having laid out the theoretical foundation the second half of the book shifts to a consideration of entrepreneurship education and training in practice. Eight entrepreneurship training programmes feature, four in Ireland and four elsewhere in Europe. There is welcome depth to the research data, including a longitudinal dimension, although this would appear to be limited to the Irish programmes. Economic benefits are evident, the authors argue, noting positive changes in employment status, the number of new businesses created and the number of new jobs generated following entrepreneurship programmes. One of the most significant findings of the longitudinal part of the study was that:
Participants perceived the entrepreneurship programmes to have made a significant positive impact on the level of their business skills and knowledge and to have positively facilitated the set-up of their business.
Henry, Hill and Leitch use their findings to develop a framework for aiding the design and delivery of entrepreneurship training programmes. The framework has three stages:
The focus is on aspiring, rather than established, entrepreneurs – programmes which have the primary objective of assisting participants to set up and run their own business.
The book is a very welcome addition to the library of resources within the broader field of education and training in small business. A particular quality is the way it successfully utilises qualitative and quantitative research, in some depth, to draw a set of practice oriented conclusions and recommendations. It deserves to be widely read, for example, by anyone interested in the relationship between higher education and work. At Leeds Metropolitan University the BA business studies programme is being re-designed. To date “transferable business skills” have been an integral, underpinning, feature of the course. The proposal is that this is replaced, at least in part, with something called “enterprise”. However, it would seem to me that clarity of purpose, rationale and design, remains elusive. I will be recommending the course development team take a day out to read this book. I suspect many others involved in small business and entrepreneurship education, training and research would also benefit from such an exercise.