Student Entrepreneurs : The Influence of University, Entrepreneurship Education and Research

University dissertation from Göteborg : Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: This licentiate thesis deals with the questions if and how entrepreneurship education and access to research at university stimulate student start-ups. The phenomenon of student entrepreneurs is approached in three empirical studies. In the first study mail questionnaires were sent out to former entrepreneurship students at three universities in Sweden, in order to find out if the students’ entrepreneurial behaviour was influenced by education. The second study explores differences in communication skills and the handling of liabilities of newness between entrepreneurs with entrepreneurship education at university and/or previous start-up experience. Student entrepreneurs are compared with a control group of randomly chosen Swedish entrepreneurs. In the third study, the influence from university research on student entrepreneurship as well as direct and indirect regional effects are examined through interviews with university spin-offs around Halmstad University. Entrepreneurship education at university is found to influence entrepreneurial behaviour, to increase the student’s awareness of business opportunities and to result in high start-up frequency early in life. The student entrepreneurs perceive fewer problems to handle some aspects of liability of newness as well as communicative skills in terms of openness and adaptation. Other-orientation is on the other hand supported by previous start-up experience. Hence, with experience from both entrepreneurship education and previous start-up, the students seem well prepared for future start-ups. The case study show multiple and long term indirect effects from student entrepreneurship in developing an entrepreneurial region. Established student entrepreneurs support less experienced student entrepreneurs by linking them to supplementary resources. Students are found to shoulder an important role as academic entrepreneurs in interaction with other individuals connected to the university. 

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