Persistence and Acuteness of Research Gaps in Entrepreneurship Education: A Systematic Content Analysis of Previous Reviews (1987-2017)

By van Ewijk, Anne | International Journal of Entrepreneurship, June 2018 | Go to article overview

Persistence and Acuteness of Research Gaps in Entrepreneurship Education: A Systematic Content Analysis of Previous Reviews (1987-2017)


van Ewijk, Anne, International Journal of Entrepreneurship


INTRODUCTION

Entrepreneurship may emancipate vulnerable groups (Baxter et al, 2014), help prepare students to face unstable job markets (Mwasalwiba, 2010) or stimulate job creation (Decker et al, 2014). Recognizing its value for the socio-economic infrastructure of their countries, policymakers continue to invest in entrepreneurship education, as they consider it an important stimulant for entrepreneurial behaviour through its impact on students' entrepreneurial intentions (e.g. European Commission, 2008; OECD, 2009). This belief is supported by well-articulated and widely tested theoretical models arguing that entrepreneurial intentions are the most immediate predictor of actual behaviour, such as the Krueger-Shapero model (Krueger, 1993; Shapero, 1975) and the application of the theory of planned behaviour (Azjen, 1991) on entrepreneurship by Krueger and Carlsrud (1993). At the same time, students expect and experience value from entrepreneurship education (Kirkwood et al, 2014), leading to an increasing number of students that enrol in entrepreneurship programs, which fuels the demand for additional, more specialized courses (Katz, 2003).

Consequently, there has been a strong growth in the supply of entrepreneurship education and, with it, in the academic study thereof (Pittaway and Cope, 2007; Mwasalwiba, 2010, Nabi et al, 2017). For example, special editions dedicated to this topic in management education and education journals are numerous and regular. In addition, many 'mainstream' entrepreneurship journals include contributions about entrepreneurship education. Finally, searching with the terms "entrepreneurship" AND "education" in databases with scholarly publications creates vast amounts of hits: such as in SCOPUS (4,055) or ProQuest (24,083).

The large number of papers on entrepreneurship education, in combination with the fragmented nature of the field (Pittaway and Cope, 2007; Nabi et al, 2017), makes it considerably challenging for new and experienced researchers alike to obtain an overview of what knowledge has been created so far and what gaps in this body of knowledge are the most pressing. Consequently, it is not easy to decide what needs to be studied and how. Thus, the main question driving this paper is: 'What are the most prominent research gaps in the field of entrepreneurship education, in terms of subjects and methods?'

As such, this paper aims to facilitate the advancement of the relatively young research field of entrepreneurship education by inspiring future studies that have a strong positive impact on theory building. This objective consists of two parts. First, to provide researchers and those with funding with the most recent overview of subject-related and methodological research gaps in the field of entrepreneurship education. Second, to indicate how the identified research gaps hinder the advancement of the field and what type of future studies would be able to address these gaps.

Section 2 outlines the methodology, including all the steps taken in the process of data gathering that was inspired by the systematic literature review method. Focusing on review papers allows for the integrating of previous findings and generates insights into the longevity and relative importance of research gaps. It also describes the data analysis, consisting of a qualitative systematic content analysis with coding based on a mixed predetermined-emerging taxonomy of subcategories for gaps. Sections 3 and 4 contain the results of the study and provide an overview of the retrieved gaps regarding study subjects and methods. Section 5 discusses the importance of addressing these gaps as well as the main directions for future studies to follow and advance the field of entrepreneurship education. Furthermore, it outlines how obstacles may be overcome through a joint effort by future researchers, grant awarding policy-makers and journal editors. Finally, this is briefly summarized in the conclusion, which also contains elaborate critical reflection on the limitations of the chosen study design. …

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