Imagery and research

Educating an entrepreneurial mindset

Educating for entrepreneurship has probably never been more timely. As Van Rompuy notes in his ETF keynote, the gap between job listings and unemployment is increasing. There is clearly work to be done in terms of better matching the job seeker capabilities and job requirements. Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills and attitudes are one primary route through which this gap can be bridged.

In order to classify the core elements of entrepreneurship training, I did some research and came across a study that tries to accomplish the same goal. Volery and Müller (2006) have presented a framework for assessing the effectiveness  of entrepreneurial education programs. According to them, there is ample research on whether entrepreneurial education is beneficial to fostering entrepreneurship, the answer being yes. However, there is less research on what actually causes a program’s usefulness.

The framework as proposed in the study hence attempts to delineate what aspects are important in educating an entrepreneurial mindset, and how those aspects affect the intention to become an entrepreneur.

The framework they have developed builds on the seminal work by Ajzen; the theory of planned behavior (Fig 1). According to the model, behavior (e.g. whether a student becomes an entrepreneur) is driven by an intention to do so. Intention refers to the motivation; or how hard the individual is willing to try.

The intention to perform the action; i.e. an intention to become an entrepreneur; can be predicted and assisted by focusing entrepreneurial education on three antecedents:

Attitude to the behavior: The individual’s general attitude towards becoming an entrepreneur is an important issue. Without the proper attitude, entrepreneurship decisions will likely not happen. The key words are independence, self-realization, and freedom.

The attitudinal component is part of the system in many entrepreneurial programs in general. However, for some reason, it is not mentioned in the ETF report. This may result from many of the programs being targeted towards budding entrepreneurs, who may not need attitudinal coaching. The Lebanon case does speak about “entrepreneurial inspiration”, which may be a form of motivation.

Subjective norms: these are the person’s normative expectations of others, or what he/she perceives as normatively acceptable; i.e. whether entrepreneurial work is viewed as socially acceptable. Volery and Müller focus on the family’s effect for opening up possibilities. They also suggest bringing students together with young entrepreneurs and professors with an entrepreneurial attitude. This is present in many of the programs presented in the ETF report. E.g. InnoOmnia features close cooperation between students and entrepreneurs. A somewhat similar cooperation can be seen in the Lebanon case.

Perceived behavioral control refers to the level of difficulty of the behavior that the person views. This would imply the ease or difficulty the student perceives as being related to the actual task of succeeding in entrepreneurship.

Increasing the feeling of “I can do it” may result more formal education in business skills, or case studies provided by actual entrepreneurs. Educating the students in key marketing and finance skills is expected to increase the perception of one’s future success. Several of the cases in the ETF report address the competence issue. Most notably, the SimVenture case appears to offer substantial benefits as it directly works towards improving student’s capabilities in running a business on a day-to-day basis.

Theory of Planned Behavior, from

T Volery, S Müller - Rencontres de St-Gall, 2006 -

Entrepreneurship Training: 12 Good Practice Examples from ETF - European Training Foundation

Tinkering and education?

(crossposted from

Go on Youtube and watch John Seely Browns - Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Learner in the 21st Century -video.  Then write a blog post on on how YOU would apply tinkering in your learning. No set length, use as many or little words as you need. Title your post "JSB - YOUR NAME" The video can be found at

I was really impressed by the talk. Thank you for bringing it into my attention. Bringing knowing, playing and making together. This is something I underwrite in my own life. It has been my philosophy – at least as far as more hands-on-knowledge is concerned. But I still haven’t though of it as a parallel philosophy that could be brought into learning.

When I began to learn golf, I had to learn how to take apart, fix and tinker with the golf club. So I regrip my own clubs. I’ve shortened a putter that was a tad too long. I’ve grinded a little bit off a sand wedge that had too much bounce for my taste.

When I began to learn photography, I had to learn how the devices function. So I took apart a lens to see how it works. I had a compact camera with a broken shutter button. I didn’t want to discard it so I tore it into pieces, and put in a new shutter button for the eBay cost of $5. And then I took apart a flash. And I soldered a new controller board inside the flash to upgrade some of its functionality. Once you get to play, build, and learn with iPhone parts, you finally get very good at repairing them, I can attest.

In all, it is very easy for me to understand the logic behind this talk. In order to REALLY comprehend – to OWN – a topic, you need to be able to play around it.

You could say the same can happen in more conceptual issues as well. Like quantitative analysis. Structural equation modeling (SEM) is based on difficult mathematics, at least so difficult that I never understood it. But I still had to learn using it as a statistical tool. Which you can do, using the statistical programs, which do the math part for you. But it is a tinkerer analyst’s dream, so to speak. SEM lets you play with the data. It lets you turn the data into a pipeline, or a system of gates and paths, and play with it, to see what it turns into.

I haven’t had the joy to teach any of the above subjects, but I still feel strongly that enabling tinkering; play, making, and knowing, would be very beneficial in my teaching (which are mostly business studies). I suppose it is what we are piloting in one of our game based platforms right now. The LOL game allows for the students to enter a virtual exchange world, where their ideas are the currency.

A game based business platform lets students build a “company”, or a collection of assets. It lets them play with ideas, solutions, and alternative ways of solving problems. It allows for gathering knowledge, both for classic marketing topics, but also, and probably more importantly, for gathering tacit knowledge about problem solving. Like Mr. Brown talks, the tacit meta knowledge, the knowledge about how to solve problems, is more important and more permanent that the static knowledge about the solutions to a given problem.

In the end, I would like to give my students the same feeling in their business studies that I have with electronics. Even if what they first thought doesn’t work out, I want them to feel in control. I want them to think, “hey, no worries, let me play with this for a while, until I can get it to work”. Which brings back to mind (sidetracking here), that I should write a blog post about my repair of a failed Apple Time Capsule. It now works like a charm, although de-soldering the original power supply and replacing it with an external Chinese import Cisco power adaptor did take more time than I expected.

While tinkering is what I have always believed in, it isn’t something that I have knowingly put into my teaching. This is where I want to go in deeper.

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