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Graduate entrepreneurship: more than child's play

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ With the unbridled demand for entrepreneurship in higher education, the purpose of this paper is to identify how pedagogy can inhibit students in making the transition to graduate entrepreneurship. Along the way, the concept of what and who is a graduate entrepreneur is challenged. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper reports upon the pragmatic development of enterprise programmes in Ireland and Australia. Despite different starting points, a convergence of purpose as to what can be realistically expected of enterprise education has emerged. Findings ‐ This study reinforces the shift away from commercialisation strategies associated with entrepreneurial action towards developing essential life skills as core to any university programme and key to developing entrepreneurial capacity among students. Despite similar government intervention, university policy and student demand for practical-based entrepreneurial learning in both cases, graduates tend not to engage in immediate entrepreneurial action due to the lack of fit between their programme of study and individual resource profiles, suggesting that graduate entrepreneurship is more than child's play. Practical implications ‐ There are practical implications for educationalists forced to consider the effectiveness of their enterprise teachings, and cautionary evidence for those charged with providing support services for graduates. Originality/value ‐ Given the evolutionary approaches used at the University of Tasmania to develop students as "reasonable adventurers" and at the University of Ulster to develop "the enterprising mindset" the paper presents evidence of the need to allow students the opportunity to apply entrepreneurial learning to their individual life experiences in order to reasonably venture into entrepreneurial activity.

Keywords: Australia; Business enterprise; Curriculum development; Entrepreneurialism; Higher education; Ireland

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00400910810909072

Publication date: September 30, 2008

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