Instead of pushing students toward entrepreneurship, they should be helped with understanding personal priorities
Many policymakers and educational institutions hope to boost their economies by stimulating students' entrepreneurial intentions. To date, most research concluded that entrepreneurship education could increase these intentions by improving the image that students have of entrepreneurship as a career option, making them see how their environment can help them become entrepreneurs or increasing their self-confidence regarding their entrepreneurial skills. However, recent studies show that even if these goals are achieved, students' entrepreneurial intentions often do not grow.
Anne van Ewijk, an adjunct lecturer of Management at Abu Dhabi University, and Wiebke Weber, deputy director of the Research and Expertise Centre for Survey Methodology (RECSM) at the UPF Department of Political and Social Sciences, launched an international project that involved several universities in nine countries on six continents: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Finland, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, UAE and the United States. The article has been published recently in the online edition of Journal of Business Venturing Insights, which specializes in research related to entrepreneurial phenomena.
As part of the results of this project, the researchers confirmed an alternative dynamic to entrepreneurial intentions in education: "Students make more pronounced decisions for or against entrepreneurship when they are highly aware of what they want in life," they say. And they add: "Unfortunately, entrepreneurship courses included in the study, on average, did not help students better understand their life goals," which is a skill that did not increase greatly either with older age or with a higher level of studies.
According to the authors, when trainers facilitate an understanding of these life goals, they will improve the "sorting effect" (whereby students become more convinced about whether entrepreneurship is right for them or not): "Thus, enterprise training will contribute to the selection of aspiring entrepreneurs who are more motivated," they assure.
This study is a first step towards a new idea of what to measure in studies on the formation of entrepreneurial intentions in entrepreneurship education, in addition to the variables from dominant intention models. Future studies with larger samples could complete these findings with more information of what is happening inside and outside the classroom, or investigating solving possible goal conflicts of future entrepreneurs.