Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

The Emergence of Entrepreneurship Education: Development, Trends, and Challenges

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

The Emergence of Entrepreneurship Education: Development, Trends, and Challenges

Article excerpt

Entrepreneurship has emerged over the last two decades as arguably the most potent economic force the world has ever experienced. With that expansion has come a similar increase in the field of entrepreneurship education. The recent growth and development in the curricula and programs devoted to entrepreneurship and new-venture creation have been remarkable. The number of colleges and universities that offer courses related to entrepreneurship has grown from a handful in the 1970s to over 1,600 in 2005. In the midst of this huge expansion remains the challenge of complete academic legitimacy for entrepreneurship. While it can be argued that some legitimacy has been attained in the current state of entrepreneurship education, there are critical challenges that lie ahead. This article focuses on the trends and challenges in entrepreneurship education for the 21st century.

Introduction: A Perspective on Entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial revolution has taken hold across the globe and has undeniably impacted the world of business forever. For example, witness the powerful emergence of entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. during the last 10 years. New business incorporations averaged 600,000 per year. Although many of these incorporations may have previously been sole proprietorships or partnerships, the trend still demonstrates the popularity of venture activity, whether it was through start-ups, expansions, or development. More specifically, 807,000 new small firms were established in 1995, which is an all-time record. Since 1980, Fortune 500 companies have lost more than 5 million jobs, but more than 34 million new jobs have been created. In 1996, a small business created 1.6 million new jobs. Fifteen percent of the fastest-growing new firms (i.e., "gazelles") accounted for 94% of the net job creation, and less than one third of these gazelles was involved in high technology. Small businesses (i.e., those with fewer than 500 employees) employ 53% of the private work force and account for 47% of sales and 51% of private sector gross domestic product (GDP). Sixteen percent of all U.S. firms have been in existence for less than 1 year. Sixty-seven percent of all new inventions are created by smaller firms (Reynolds, Hay, & Camp, 1999).

Given these findings, it would seem safe to assume that new firms with employees may number to more than 600,000 in a given year, and that another couple of million new business entities--in the form of self-employment--may also come into being each year. Approximately one new firm with employees is established every year for every 300 adults in the U.S. As the typical new firm has at least two owners-managers, one of every 150 adults participates in the founding of a new firm each year. Substantially, more--1 in 12--are involved in trying to launch a new firm. The net result, then, is that the U.S. has a very robust level of firm creation. Among the 6 million establishments (single-site and multisite firms) with employees, approximately 600,000 to 800,000 are added each year. That translates into an annual birth rate of 14 to 16 per 100 existing establishments (Reynolds, Hay, & Camp, 1999). The U.S. has achieved its highest economic performance during the last 10 years by fostering and promoting entrepreneurial activity (Minniti & Bygrave, 2004).

In summary, entrepreneurial firms make two indispensable contributions to the market economies. First, they are an integral part of the renewal process that pervades and defines market economies. Entrepreneurial firms play a crucial role in the innovations that lead to technological change and productivity growth. In short, they are about change and competition because they change market structure. The market economies are dynamic organic entities always in the process of "becoming," rather than an established one that has already arrived. They are about prospects for the future, not about the inheritance of the past (Kuratko & Hodgetts, 2004). …

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