Design of entrepreneurial action learning programmes (2014)

David Wick, Thomas Williamson & Simon HillCoventry University

Entrepreneurial intent can be defined as the “self-acknowledged conviction by a persons that they intend to set up a new business venture and consciously plan to do so at some point in the future” (Thompson 2009:676).The Wilson Review (2012) stated that HEI role is to “develop enterprise skills and promote entrepreneurship in the wider context of graduate employability”. Previously Rae (2009) stated that entrepreneurial “Action Learning” should be part of universities education, as it provides an option of creating their own business venture or enhanced employment prospects.  An example is the Student Placement for Entrepreneurs in Education (SPEED) and this  has been developed since 2006 to identify, nurture and convert potential and existing entrepreneurial spirit into business reality (Birch, Clements 2006).

The methodology used to measure the demand was conducted by the Institute of Applied Entrepreneurship (IAE) during the “fresher’s week”. This was designed to gain a “snap shot” of their entrepreneurial intentions when entering the institute. The six “yes or no” questions were used to investigated if they have been self employed or run a business before, currently running a business, and their future entrepreneurial intent. A consistence data collection method has been used over the four previous years so a comparative longitudinal study has been collected with over 7,500 responses. A more intensive pre and post programme online questionnaire was then used to see how extra curriculum support has aided the student’s development and future career ambitions.

The results highlight the high number of students running a business was 2.4% – 4.7% over the years, and between 65.5% – 72% would like to start one in the future. This clearly demonstrates the requirement of Coventry University (and other HEI’s) to have formal business education start up programmes in allowing the students to create their own future.