Matlay, H. and Rae, D. (2012), "Introduction", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 19 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/jsbed.2012.27119caa.001Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Introduction From: Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Volume 19, Issue 3
The very nature of entrepreneurship, in all its complexity and heterogeneity, makes it a difficult discipline to teach successfully at various levels of the educational system. Nevertheless, increasing pressure is exerted from local and central government to incorporate “entrepreneurship” and related subjects into the curriculum of primary, secondary and tertiary education. In recent years, entrepreneurship has become a topical source of populist debate as well as media driven, prime time entertainment. At the basis of its meteoric rise to political topicality is the assumption that “entrepreneurship education” can provide more and better educated entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, however, there is a paucity of empirically rigorous research to link entrepreneurship to sustainable economic growth and national prosperity. Furthermore, critics of entrepreneurship education, as a panacea to economic stagnation or decline, argue that it has a narrow focus on curriculum design, delivery and assessment. This could not be further from the truth! Too often, such critics lack specialist knowledge and/or practitioner perspective of this highly innovative and diverse field of academic research.
Those of us who are directly involved in various research and theoretical as well as practical aspects of educating and developing future entrepreneurs are well aware of the many challenges involved in working with entrepreneurial individuals at various levels of education and catering to their general needs as well as specific requirement. The co-editors of this Special Issue acknowledge the magnitude of current economic difficulties faced by nations across the world and the multiple expectations that society places upon entrepreneurs to lead the drive to recovery and growth, as well as behaving with ethical responsibility and not expecting disproportionate levels of personal reward. They recognise the key role that universities could play in shaping attitudes, developing competencies and providing entrepreneurial knowledge and skills for their students. At a time when youth and adult unemployment remain at record high levels, self-employment and new business creation could and should provide graduates with a feasible and lucrative alternative to the traditional employment opportunities expected in large businesses. Furthermore, developing entrepreneurial graduates would make them better employees for businesses of all sizes, locations and economic activities. Celebrating innovation and diversity in entrepreneurship education is an important and useful way for researchers to contribute constructively to the on-going debate on its value for, and impact on, economic recovery and growth.
In the first article Rae, Martin, Hannon and Antcliff outline the main results of a comprehensive survey of enterprise education in all higher education institutions (HEIs) in England. The survey was undertaken in 2010 by the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) on behalf of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE) and builds upon similar research undertaken in 2006 and in 2007. The results provide an audit of enterprise education in HEIs in England connecting provision, incubation, new venture support, graduate employability, innovation and academic entrepreneurship. It highlights “hotspots” as well as gaps in enterprise provision and offers “benchmarks” for this important sector of the economy.
The second paper focuses on the competence factors that encourage innovative behaviour by European higher education graduate professionals. Bjornali and Storen found that education programmes that emphasised the development of entrepreneurial skills and problem-based learning tended to also promote innovation.
In the next paper, Ferreira, Raposo, Rodrigues, Dinis and Paço develop and test a comprehensive structural equation model aimed at identifying the variables which impact upon entrepreneurial intention of students. Their results highlight that a need for achievement, self-confidence and positive personal attitudes have a favourable effect upon entrepreneurial intention. Subjective norms and personal attitudes also affect perceived behavioural control.
In the fourth article of this Special Issue, Solesvik, Westhead, Kolvereid and Matlay explore the extent to which an integrated conceptual model of factors drawn from entrepreneurial event theory and the theory of planned behaviour explains the variance relating to the intention to become an entrepreneur in Ukraine. Students reporting higher levels of perceived desirability, feasibility, attitude and behavioural control were more likely to report the formation of entrepreneurial intentions. Importantly, no significant negative interaction effect was detected between perceived desirability and feasibility of new venture formation.
Next, Panagiotis Piperopoulos explores the impact of higher education programmes, structures and culture on students’ entrepreneurship intentions and attitudes. It emerges that entrepreneurial intentions and aspirations of students tend to deteriorate during a four-year study programme in Greek universities. It appears that this is mainly due to the fact that faculty members lack the relevant attitude and commitment towards entrepreneurship education.
In the sixth article, Henry and Treanor explore entrepreneurship education within veterinary medicine. The authors discuss the perceptions of veterinary students and employers in relation to teaching within veterinary medicine. It appears that veterinary students tend not to place the same value on entrepreneurship education as employers and do not perceive it as a “priority” within their studies. The topic of the seventh paper relates to the importance of education in the entrepreneurial process.
Arthur, Hisrich and Cabrera explore facilitators and impediments to regional and global entrepreneurship in order to establish if education represented a critical factor. It emerges that although education was not the most frequently cited critical factor for successful entrepreneurship, it did rate high in comparison to other facilitators and impediments.
In the eighth article, Audet and Couteret investigate the impact of customized entrepreneurial coaching upon the development of novice owner-managers’ managerial skills. The results show that success in a coaching relationship is explained by a set of factors, some of which are more important than others. The most important success factor appears to relate to an entrepreneur’s open attitude to change.
The next paper, authored by Jonathan Lean, focuses upon PhD students’ perceptions of the importance of enterprise skills and the extent to which these are being developed in UK HEIs during PhD programmes. The author found that the majority of PhD students recognise the importance of enterprise skills, in particular those that are associated with communication, confidence, achieving outcomes, determination and problem solving.
In the final article in the Special Issue, Thomas Wing Yan Man sets out to develop an empirically grounded model of entrepreneurial learning that is focused on learning behaviours. The respective model incorporates six patterns of entrepreneurial learning behaviours, grounded in three transformative processes.
The co-editors would like to thank all contributors, referees and advisors for their hard work and commitment to this Special Issue. Without their contribution and commitment over a two-year period, this Special Issue, which has the potential to demonstrate combined impact on policy, research knowledge and educational practice, would not have come to fruition.
Harry MatlayBirmingham City Business School, Birmingham, UK
David RaeLincoln Business School, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK