Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

The Education of Entrepreneurs: An Instrument to Measure Entrepreneurial Development

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

The Education of Entrepreneurs: An Instrument to Measure Entrepreneurial Development

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

With the rise of global economic competition, evolving business markets, and international economic uncertainty, many nations have looked for solutions to stabilize fiscal conditions. One approach has been to focus on entrepreneurship as a means of building sustainable business models upon which new ventures will flourish. With growing trends towards innovation as an economic driver, entrepreneurship has become a commonly referenced term in the popular as well as academic press and has been identified by policy leaders as a crucial element to the global marketplace. Approximately four million new businesses are created annually contributing the majority of new jobs to the US economy (Haltiwanger et al, 2009) as an illustration of the impact entrepreneurship has on economic development. Worldwide, an increased emphasis has been placed on educating the current and future workforce in aspects of entrepreneurship as a means of remaining globally competitive. Business and government officials have called upon post-secondary education to help address the need for entrepreneurs and to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities individuals require to successfully implement new business ventures. This study operationally refines the constructs of entrepreneurship development including the further design of existing instruments to measure these constructs. Moreover, these re-designed instruments are administered in three validity studies to three different samples of: (1) undergraduate students who completed an entrepreneurship course; (2) existing entrepreneurs; and (3) college graduates who had completed an entrepreneurship course up to seven years ago versus graduates who had not completed any entrepreneurship coursework. A review of the existing literature is provided below to frame entrepreneurship education in the present research, which builds upon previous study of entrepreneurial education worldwide (Santos, 2013; Engle et al, 2011) and others.

Entrepreneurship education

Katz (2003) provides a historical context for the rise of entrepreneurship education in American higher education, from the earliest courses found in 1876 to focused efforts at Harvard beginning in 1947 and an increase in programs being offered in the 1970s. Today, over 1,600 US institutions of higher learning offer entrepreneurship-related courses with more than 275 endowed faculty positions and close to 50 refereed journals dedicated to the field of entrepreneurship (Katz, 2003). Gibb (1993) studied the growth of entrepreneurship education programs in the United Kingdom, illustrating a growth in the number of programs since the 1980s. The growth in entrepreneurship education programs has not been limited to the United States, as other nations around the globe have also looked to develop programs including Canada (Myrah, 2006), Portugal (Silva, et al, 2012), and the European Union (Turnbull, 2012). Despite the growth in entrepreneurial education programs, little has been done to measure the impact of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurship development.

The ability for an individual to learn entrepreneurship skills has been questioned in the popular and academic literature. Wasserman (2012) argued, "founders of startups clearly believe they can learn" and Torrance (2013) held that it is not if entrepreneurs can be taught, but how to teach entrepreneurs. It has been shown that education relates positively to the economic performance of start-ups (Gimeno et al., 1997) yet the role that entrepreneurship education plays in entrepreneurship development remains a nascent field of research.

Social cognitive career theory

Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) holds that an individual's occupational considerations are partially a function of self-efficacy beliefs and an individual's intent, expected career outcomes and goals. As put forth by Lent, Brown, and Hackett (1994), SCCT describes interrelated and dynamic models of career and academic interest development, choice, and performance. …

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