Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research
1997 Edition

SUMMARIES

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EDUCATING ENTREPRENEURS: SOME SCOTTISH EXPERIENCES

Sarah Williams
Andrew Turnbull

The Robert Gordon University
Aberdeen, AB24 4FP, Scotland

Telephone: 44-1224-283857 
E-Mail: s.williams@rgu.ac.uk and a.turnbull@rgu.ac.uk

Principal Topics

The progress of the consortium element of the Scottish Universities Entrepreneurship Programme against the backdrop of government funding to reverse the nationally low business birth rate. The movement on from the pilot stage of the programme within Business Schools towards the dissemination of innovative and effective means of teaching entrepreneurship throughout the university sector. The involvement of entrepreneurs in the teaching process is tracked and compared between the programme participants. The factors motivating the entrepreneurs to become and to continue to be involved in the teaching process and the guidance and development offered to them throughout the process.

Method

Entrepreneurs involved with a consortium of Scottish universities (a sample of 15 entrepreneurs) were interviewed in depth and their progress followed through the first 18 months of the programme. The entrepreneurs operate in a broad range of industries?from heavy engineering to retirement homes. Teaching, training and research staff at each of the Centres for Entrepreneurship were interviewed and regular contact maintained with them through quarterly Steering Group meetings.

Major Findings

The consortium of 3 universities involved in the Scottish Universities Entrepreneurship Programme is making strong progress towards the targets agreed with its government funders?and exceeded those targets in the first year of operations. Integral to this success are the various roles played by entrepreneurs in the process. Guidance and development opportunities for the entrepreneurs have been provided and have been seen as beneficial by and to the entrepreneurs, both in the context of their teaching inputs and in their work in their own businesses. In this it can be seen that the relationship  between  academia and  the  world  of  entrepreneurship  benefits  can   be mutual if structured carefully and nurtured.  Crucially, the learning experiences of students are therefore enhanced when investments are made in the relationship between entrepreneurs and the academic process and the route to progression from scholar to entrepreneur is seen to be clearer and smoother by all parties concerned.

Implications

The business birth rate in any nation may be enhanced if the relationship between academic institutions and entrepreneurs involved in the teaching process is nurtured and developed to the mutual benefit of all parties involved. In particular, it must be made clear to students, through the appropriateness of processes employed, that the progression from academic studies to entrepreneurial activity can be made more practical through those processes.

   

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