Suppose that we needed to plea for more funding for entrepreneurship education, how would we pitch the (assumed) benefits of these endeavors for economic prosperity? In other words, what are the effects of our efforts to promote entrepreneurship through education programs? Key questions that were addressed during the 8th DARE research seminar in Utrecht, co-organized with Utrecht School of Economics and ECSB. Our main conclusion after a day of insightful research and fruitful discussions: we are gaining insights, but there is still much that we do not know and it is necessary to collaborate in entrepreneurship research and share information.
To put the efforts of entrepreneurship education and a society’s entrepreneurial endeavors in a relevant context, Erik Stam (Utrecht University) introduced the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem approach. The interaction between education, research and entrepreneurship also known as the ‘knowledge triangle’, can help tackle jointly economic an social challenges. It was stressed that in order to have a productive knowledge triangle, that contributes to a a society’s prosperity, we need to produce valuable knowledge, carried by innovations. Hence, it is important to know that the knowledge triangle will only be productive if it is embedded in a well functioning entrepreneurial ecosystem. Future challenges set out for entrepreneurship researchers are to unravel the effects of key elements in the ecosystems (e.g. culture, institutions, finance, leadership, networks) on the generation of entrepreneurial activity (e.g. student entrepreneurs, spin-offs, entrepreneurial employee activity).
One important insight of the day was that (self-)awareness of entrepreneurship as a viable career option could be affected by entrepreneurship education. An international research endeavor on student’s entrepreneurial intentions, specifically addresses this relationship as explained by Anne van Ewijk (Abu Dhabi University). So far, 41 universities have been approached of which 17 assured their participation. There is still opportunity to participate in the project (click here for more information). Also, research by Matthijs Hammer (Delft University of Technology/Saxion University of Applied Sciences) showed that the didactical design of some entrepreneurship education programs in the Netherlands score higher on the awareness phase of the entrepreneurial opportunity and development process, while other programs are more oriented towards venture creation. In contrast, two Finnish programs assessed in the study were more balanced considering their orientation on entrepreneurial phases.
In general, an individual educational attainment is an important breeding ground for entrepreneurial activity. It can positively affect the propensity to become an ambitious entrepreneur, not only in an independent position but also as an entrepreneurial employee (intrapreneurs). Werner Liebregts (Utrecht University) demonstrated how this effect is even stronger for the latter category, especially in countries with a high uncertainty avoidant population. Extending these outcomes, Sharon Dolmans (Eindhoven University of Technology) showed a positive impact of entrepreneurship educational programs (Jong Ondernemen) on employment activities and employability. By means of a field experiment with control group design, the study found support of: a higher likelihood of employment, a shorter time to the first job, a higher likelihood of managing positions, and more time spent on leading new initiatives.
Finally, an important new insight that the seminar yielded was presented by André van Stel (Kozminski University). He stressed that family firm succession is becoming more and more problematic as the intentions of students to take over their parents’ business are low (approximately 5% across the world). Better employment options, starting an own business and negative experiences in the family firm may interfere. Taking that into account it was found that this succession interest can be raised by: involvement of children in their parents’ business operations during their university studies, and with dedicated university programs promoting the interest of current students in their parents’ business operations.
A general conclusion of the day was that entrepreneurship education may be beneficial for both students and the wider society, even if not all students end up running their own businesses. The various presentations showed that in modern economies, the availability of entrepreneurial emloyees becomes more and more important for business success. Moreover, students following entrepreneurship education are more likely to find a managing position, either in a corporate firm or in a family business. Hence, entrepreneurship education enables the emergence of successful new businesses not only by delivering new independent entrepreneurs but also by delivering entrepreneurial employees that the independent entrepreneurs need to make their business a success.
The next DARE-event is due in Spring 2016. If you have any suggestions or would like to co-organize a DARE seminar please contact our Secretary (Nardo de Vries: email@example.com)