Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship Education in France: A Perspective of Theory and Practice

Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship Education in France: A Perspective of Theory and Practice

Article excerpt

THE FRENCH LANDSCAPE AND ITS CONTEXT

Over the past 15 years the number of annual enterprise creations in France has increased from 180,000 to 550,000 and the number of business start-ups reached a record high of 580,200 in 2009, which represented an approximately 75 per cent increase in comparison with 331,400 in 2008 (INSEE 2010). Much of this increase can be attributed to the 320,000 auto-entrepreneur (one person) start-ups, primarily created in the services sector (INSEE 2010). One in three French people wants to create a business 'one day' and one in five in the next three years (IFOP 2011). Most of the creations are, however, as Hayat (2012) critically commented, out of necessity and not opportunity: the majority of the companies do not grow and those who grow, grow more slowly than those for instance in the USA, Italy and Germany (Hayat 2012). Furthermore, only 6% of French companies (about 200,000) employ more than 10 people and 1% of all companies (around 33,000) employ more than 50 people (Hayat 2012). About one thousand growth firms are created every year, 550 of which are technological companies. Yet, only 1.3% (around 7,000) French companies employ more than 10 people after 5 years' of activity (Hayat 2012).

Although these figures show that the number of start-ups has increased substantially over recent years this does not necessarily suggest that French Higher Education promotes entrepreneurship and working for small and medium-sized enterprises. In feet Leger-Jarniou (2005) argued that these companies are losing out, as students from French Higher Education prefer to work either for the public sector or large companies, but not SMEs. Much of this reflects the feet that entrepreneurship has not been well presented in the French political discourse (Hayat, 2012). There is little doubt that becoming an entrepreneur is an unusual professional choice, not necessarily well regarded, among Higher Education students in France (Boisson and Schieb Bienfait, 2011). This paper contributes to the ongoing debate about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education in the French context by a) presenting a historical overview of French entrepreneurship education and some of its milestones; b) by discussing the particular challenges such education faces in the French context and c) by making recommendations about possible ways forward.

THE FRENCH EDUCATION SYSTEM

In France there is a tripartite system with (i) universities, of which there are 82 plus associated research organizations such as the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); (ii) the Grandes Ecoles, of which there are 190 providing training in business administration, management, marketing and finance, veterinary as well as engineering studies; as well as (iii) a third type of organization such as University Institutes (institute universitaire), which prepare students for a working life. The Grandes Ecoles have traditionally played an important role in the French HE system and have been considered carriers of both national and regional policy initiatives (Klapper & Leger-Jarniou 2006). David (1994) described them as 'carriers of history', as they were born out of the need to fulfill some social purpose and Bourdieu (1989, read in Zanten 2012, 73) called them 'ecoles du pouvoir' (schools of power). Traditionally the Grandes Ecoles have a strong link with the local/regional Chambers of Commerce and receive considerable fiinding from them The first Grandes Ecoles were established under Napoleon to train and educate the senior managers and administrators needed by the French state and later by French large-scale conglomerates (Klapper 2005b). There are several Paris-based universities such as the prestigious Sciences Po and Paris Dauphine, which were recently awarded the prestigious status of a Grand Etablissement, a status similar to that of a Grande Ecole. Like Sciences Po Paris Dauphine is allowed to choose the best students through a rigorous selection process, a privilege not open to all French universities. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.