Effectiveness of Formal Entrepreneurship Education Programmes in University Settings

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Effectiveness of Formal Entrepreneurship Education Programmes in University settings: a Review of selected Literature ................................................................ Rifai A. R. M. & John Mc Williams

Deakin Business School
Deakin University
CONTACT: A. R. M. Rifai, PhD Candidate, Deakin Business School, Deakin University Australia. Mob: +61 4 30334388, Email: arif@deakin.edu.au Dr. John Mc Williams, Senior Lecturer, Deakin Business School, Deakin University Australia, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125. Tel: +61 3 92445539

Email: john.mcwilliams@deakin.edu.au


The importance of entrepreneurship education has gained widespread acceptance and documented. Less, however, is known about the effectiveness of such programs. This problem may be compounded by a lack of consensus about their purpose.

We consider three popular objectives of entrepreneurship education and review significant literature in key areas of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education, learning theory to understand dominant paradigms in the field. It goes on to examine methods used and results obtained by available research into educational outcomes. There is a paucity of research and what there is tends to use surrogates for performance, such as attitude measures, to test effectiveness. We conclude that learning outcomes need to be clearly stated so that they can be properly tested using behavioural measures.

This paper outlines the literature review in a project investigating entrepreneurship education models used or believed to be used in university settings and their learning outcome across Australia. The contents are based on a broad review, carried out referring to articles/papers included in entrepreneurship and management journals, books and research reports on entrepreneurship, the conference proceedings.

There is a positive and robust correlation found between entrepreneurship and economic performance in terms of economic growth, firm survival, innovation, employment creation, technological change, productivity increase, and exports. Nevertheless, entrepreneurship brings more than economic improvements to society. It is also a vehicle for personal development and social cohesion (Commission of the European Communities,2004). For several years, many authors have been involved in exploring innovative approaches to entrepreneurship and its context. There is evidence of growing interest in entrepreneurship in the business, academic, social and political arenas as demonstrated through research papers, books, conference proceedings, media news items and so forth (de Bruin and Dupuis 2003).

Concurrent with the rise in entrepreneurship, increasing importance has been given to the field of entrepreneurship education during the last two decades, especially in developed countries. For instance, the Commission of the European Communities has released an action plan for promoting entrepreneurship education in order to foster entrepreneurial attitude and skills among young people. The Commission targets its programmes to the areas where more support is needed (Commission of the European Comminities,2004). Similar sentiments have been expressed in the US. Suggestions were made for developing the infrastructure that underpins an entrepreneurial economy by supporting entrepreneurship education, fostering the formation of business networks, and improving access to investment capital(Alvarez, Mellinger et al. 2005).

In the context of growing global emphasis on encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation as a means to foster economic health, there have been strong recommendations by the Australian Federal Government for education providers to offer more programmes developing entrepreneurial capacities of future Australian business managers (Chan 2005). Align with the Backing Australia’s Ability Policy 2001-2004,...
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