Entrepreneurship Education

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6) Entrepreneurship Education: A Systematic Review of the Evidence

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Authors:  Luke Pittaway and Jason Cope, Enterprise and Regional Development Unit, Sheffield University Management School   Date: 2006


The purpose of this paper is to explore different themes within entrepreneurship education within higher education via the use of a systematic literature review (SLR)


Key Findings:

There  are many educational aspects covered within the domain including: employability skills; social enterprise; self-employment; venture creation; employment in small businesses; small business management; and the management of high growth ventures. Inevitably, the skills and theoretical knowledge required in each domain is interrelated but exclusive and each domain may be more relevant to certain students and graduates than others. Likewise questions can be asked about pedagogy. The underpinning pedagogy that constitutes 'enterprise' or 'entrepreneurship' education constitutes a range of forms (Gibb,1996) and institutional approaches to implementation have varied considerably (Pittaway and Cope,2006).

Entrepreneurship programs developed by universities for commercialisation, outreach or academic entrepreneurship can help to raise awareness of enterprise opportunities for students and build a positive orientation to entrepreneurship, but there is little evidence that this leads to activity or the creation of new venture creation. More research should be undertaken to identify what works and why within explicit policy contexts.  p19

The review located a range of teaching methods including use of the classics, action learning, new venture simulations, technology simulations, the development of actual ventures, skills based courses, video role plays, experiential learning and mentoring. There was even debate as to whether or not.  p. 19

Most studies focus upon a case study that promotes a particular method rather than comparing or evaluating processes and methods within a holistic framework. .  P.20 Further, research needs to be more evaluative, longitudinal and contextual to examine the link between entrepreneurship education and graduate entrepreneurship.  p24

Research should also consider the broader societal impact of entrepreneurial education rather than focus upon narrow instrumental policy goals so that the justification for E.E. is not just based upon economic utility. p24

Focus of Study

This was a systematic narrative review of research literature dealing with enterprise and entrepreneurship in higher education. It was carried out in 2006 but remains an important review of the area.

Authority and Credibility:

This is a systematic review of literature in the area that reviews the field according to set inclusion criteria working from selected articles in refereed journals. Relevant journal articles were ranked according to their citations. Though the use of citations may be sometimes an indicator of popularity, controversy or conformity to a zeitgeist, it can be considered to be a robust measure of authority and credibility.

The review acknowledges that it has little to say on the policy context for E.E. as the authors suggest that evaluations of policy in this are more likely to be published as government documents than as refereed journal articles.

Due to the use of quality criteria applied to a wide range of relevant respected peer reviewed research articles this review has significant credibility. 

Implications & Comments:

...debates about appropriate pedagogy sit within the context of what entrepreneurship education is understood to 'mean' or what entrepreneurship 'is' or what it is trying to do, axioms which are themselves guided by contextual factors.

The systemic nature of entrepreneurship education is, however, complicated by the fact that there is little clarity about what the outputs are designed to 'be' (eg graduate ventures; general education; business education; improved employability; enterprise skills) This lack of clarity about the intended outputs leads to significant diversity surrounding the inputs (e.g.. contradictory policies; major differences over pedagogy; and differences in institutional implementation.)  

Bibliographic Information

Pittaway, L., & Cope, J. (2006). Entrepreneurship Education: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Working Paper 002/2006. Sheffield University Management School, Enterprise and Regional Development Unit. London: National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from http://gees.pbworks.com/f/entrepreneurshipeducation.pdf