Investigating the motivation for undertaking, entrepreneurship education using uncertain reasoning

Gary Packham, WILLIAM JONES, Malcolm Beynon

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    This study investigates student motivation for undertaking an entrepreneurship education programme and their ultimate employment aspirations via a novel data mining technique. The overriding question considered is what relationship certain motivation characteristics have to students' aspirations, specifically in terms of their intention to be self-employed or employed. Research continues to support the notion that entrepreneurship plays a key role in creating innovation, wealth and employment. The debate on interventionism has centred on developing an environment in which entrepreneurship can be encouraged and sustained, therein the role of education and training has taken prominence. Many individuals possess attributes and competencies which lend themselves to an entrepreneurial career, studies indicate that entrepreneurship can be encouraged through education and training. Extant studies note educational attainment is correlated to entrepreneurial activity. Much of the research undertaken to date however, focuses on establishing an association between education and entrepreneurship. Despite the fact that it is widely accepted that entrepreneurship makes a significant contribution to an economy, research into the motivations of students to enrol and complete formal enterprise education is limited. The study examined enrolment data of 720 students enrolled on an entrepreneurial education programme, with work statuses of full time, part time or unemployed, and have known aspirations to either employment or self-employment. The Classification and Ranking Belief Simplex (CaRBS) technique is employed in the classification analyses undertaken, which offers an uncertain reasoning based visual approach to the exposition of findings. The notion of uncertain reasoning comes from the utilisation of the Dempster-Shafer theory of evidence methodology in the CaRBS technique. The results presented include, through the classification analysis of different cohorts of students (different statuses of students), with particular emphasis on the influence of the individual motivation characteristics in their association to employment or self employment aspirations. The results are considered in conjunction with certain demographics describing the students (gender and age). The classification findings show the level of contribution of the different motivations to the discernment of students with self employed and employed aspirations. The most contributing aspirations were Start Up, Interests and Qualifications. For these three aspirations, further understanding is given with respect to the gender and ages of the students (in terms of the more association with aspirations towards self-employed or employed). For example, with respect to start-up, the older the unemployed student, the increasing association with employment rather than self-employment career aspirations. The study identifies candidate motivation and the demographic profile for student's undertaking an entrepreneurial education programme. Applicant aspirations should inform course design, pedagogy and its inherent flexibility and recognise the specific needs of certain student groups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationN/A
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2009
    Event 32nd Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference - Liverpool
    Duration: 3 Nov 20096 Nov 2009


    Conference 32nd Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference


    • carbs
    • entrepreneuship education
    • aspirations
    • motivations


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