October 1, 2015

Study Shows Importance of Universities in Producing Entrepreneurs

(October 1, 2015)  Showing students how to launch a successful start-up with hands-on approach gives them confidence to found own company

The number of college graduates willing to start new businesses -- the largest producer of private sector jobs over the past 25 years -- could depend heavily on the entrepreneurial focus and structure of the universities from which they graduate, according to a new study.  

The article in the Journal of Small Business Management suggests that experiential entrepreneurship education that guides students through the process of starting their own firm, as opposed to more theory-based curriculum, increases confidence and the likelihood they will become entrepreneurs. It also found that students graduating with higher levels of perceived self-efficacy were more likely to found their own firm than join an existing one.

While previous studies have focused exclusively on the attributes of entrepreneurs and the reasons they start businesses, “Founder, Academic, or Employee? A Nuanced Study of Career Choice Intentions” compares the entrepreneurial intentions of students planning to become founders with those of students planning to work as an employee at an existing firm, and with those desiring to enter academia and become professors at colleges and universities.

“People become entrepreneurs because they think they are good at it and are going to be successful, but students don’t always feel that way when they graduate,” says Erik Monsen, the Steven Grossman Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship at the University of Vermont. “Our findings show the need for more goal-specific programs that give students the confidence that founding one’s own firm can be a controllable and potentially successful career. Founding or working in start-ups is one possible solution to keeping our best and brightest here in Vermont. Colleges and universities can play an important role in convincing students that the non-corporate path is a viable option."

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