Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

An Examination of Entrepreneurship Centers in the United States: A National Survey

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

An Examination of Entrepreneurship Centers in the United States: A National Survey

Article excerpt

This study fills a gap in previous research by performing an in-depth analysis of 146 entrepreneurship centers in the United States. This two-part study looks at the characteristics of the entire sample of entrepreneurship centers and then examines the differences between top-ranked centers and nonranked centers. The findings indicate that top-ranked centers have three times as many endowed chairs as nonranked centers. Top-ranked centers also offer more comprehensive graduate programs. Overall, top-ranked centers have more resources and personnel. The findings of this study will assist students, faculty, staff administrators, directors, and other stakeholders of entrepreneurship centers.


Despite the enormous growth of entrepreneurship education throughout the world, sparse research exists on the current state of entrepreneurship centers in the United States. The purpose of this descriptive study is to perform a more in-depth examination of top-ranked as well as nonranked entrepreneurship centers throughout the United States.

The United States has a gross national debt (GND) of $7 trillion, and it is expected to rise to over $700 billion this year. (GND is the amount of money that is owed to the general fund, and the general fund is the amount of money borrowed from and owed to government trust funds.) This strain at the federal level has had a trickle down effect on state budgets, which, in turn, have affected university budgets. As a result, universities have had to look to alternative means to sustain themselves.

One way that universities can enhance their budgets is through the development of a new entrepreneurship center or expansion of their existing entrepreneurship center. Entrepreneurship centers can be an excellent source of revenue for a university through donations, endowments, external programming, grants, academic programming, and commercialization of technology (for example, taking technology developed at the university and developing new companies).

It is at this point where we investigate entrepreneurship centers throughout the United States. Utilizing a sample of entrepreneurship centers in the United States, this study thoroughly examines two basic research questions to assist students, faculty, staff, administrators, directors, and stakeholders to understand the characteristics of entrepreneurship centers. The first research question is: What are the determining factors of established entrepreneurship centers (for example, faculty, students, courses offered, finances)? Focusing on the same factors, the second research question asks: What are the differences between ranked versus nonranked entrepreneurship centers? The rankings for the top-ranked programs were taken from U.S. News and World Report over the last five years.

Entrepreneurship Education

Katz (2003) developed the most comprehensive chronology of entrepreneurship education. Although he included economic and agricultural literature and experiences dating back to 1876, and others have touted the Harvard courses taught in 1947, the reality of entrepreneurship education as a force in business schools began in the early 1970s. University of Southern California launched the first MBA concentration in entre preneurship in 1971, followed by the first undergraduate concentration in 1972. From there, the field of entrepreneurship began to take root. By the early 1980s, over 300 universities were reporting courses in entrepreneurship and small business, and by the 1990s that number grew to 1,050 schools (Solomon, Weaver, and Fernald 1994). Therefore, the real emergence of entrepreneurship education took place in the 1980s.

Today, entrepreneurship education has exploded throughout the world to more than 2,200 courses at over 1,600 schools, 277 endowed positions, 44 refereed academic journals, mainstream management journals devoting more issues (some special issues) to entrepreneurship, and over 100 established and funded centers. …

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