Developing Entrepreneurial Competences in Student Companies - An Empirical Study in the Field of Entrepreneurship Education

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2020-07-30
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Advisor: Brahm, Taiga (Prof.Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2020-03-09
DDC Classifikation: 330 - Economics
370 - Education
Keywords: Unternehmerausbildung
Other Keywords: Schülerfirma
Entrepreneurship Education
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Gaining experience from the research area of economic education in relation to entrepreneurship education has been a major challenge of educational research and practice in recent decades. However, in order to investigate how entrepreneurship education and its programmes affect students, up-to-date systematic and empirically based studies are required. This will help to obtain reliable results on the effects of the respective programmes, for example with regard to the intention of future venture creation or the process of acquiring and developing entrepreneurial competences which are also the building blocks for further development of programmes dealing with entrepreneurship education. Although researchers as well as educational practitioners attribute great importance to entrepreneurship education in terms of personal, social, civic, professional and methodological competence, empirical research aiming at which specific competences are gained within a specific entrepreneurial programme needs to be further elaborated. Based on the importance of economic education and its relation to entrepreneurship education, in this dissertation analysis is made on competences being developed among students who took part in student companies, an entrepreneurial programme within the field of entrepreneurship education. To prepare the theoretical ground for it, the multifaceted definitions of entrepreneurship (varying on various theoretical and pedagogical approaches) and the resultant manifold delineations of entrepreneurship education had been worked through and a number of them are explicated according to their respective approach. This great diversity of definitions helps to understand the existing heterogeneity of entrepreneurship education both in higher education and in schools. It also explains the call for a common framework which researchers constantly claim for since frameworks of entrepreneurship education are as various and diverse as the definitions of it. A selection of frameworks differing according to their theoretical and methodological approach set the scene for the design of a newly conceptualized framework for entrepreneurial competences which the administered empirical study is based on. In Paper 1 this newly designed and theoretically founded competence framework is presented. An initial literature review carried out to clarify the specific competences in the field of entrepreneurship revealed more than 100 competences commonly related to entrepreneurs. Departing from this and from the perspective of competence orientation different existing frameworks for entrepreneurial competences have been examined. This resulted in a framework that provides the basis and may serve as a model for assessing the development of entrepreneurial competences. This new framework was designed and developed in a multistage process and is characterized by the fact that the variety of different competence areas which have been identified by the initial literature review is structured along three levels: the economic, the personal and the team level. The constructs assigned to each level and generated within the competence framework have been operationalised for further empirical research. By means of quantitative surveys, future research can thus investigate whether a relevant intervention within the scope of entrepreneurship education will contribute to the development of entrepreneurial competences. Based on the fact that interventions need to be assessed to examine the effectiveness of the programme, the research instrument was operationalised by a questionnaire to investigate the development of entrepreneurial competences, using data from student participating in student companies at schools in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Embedded in research on entrepreneurial competences, Paper 2 presents this instrument based on the previously discussed framework, aiming to find and validate the elaborated factors and constructs. The instrument in form of a questionnaire-based survey was distributed online. The instrument development used data from a pilot test in May 2017 with 163 respondents and from the pre-test in November 2017 with 226 students having completed the questionnaire. Data gathered were entered into SPSS for the respective analyses. The pre-test’s reliability analysis produced internal consistency values, results of the exploratory factor analysis for dimensional reduction indicated the theoretically assumed relations between the factors. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed to determine the consistency of the given factor structure with the existing data. The data proved to be consistent with the assumptions made, but only with regard to the individual level and the team level. In respect of the economic level, the value of the Comparative Fit Index (CFI) was below the usually assumed threshold. All in all, the instrument proved to be reliable and valid. As research on entrepreneurship education programmes, especially on mini-companies which rely on an experiential learning setting, is still a young field and shared frameworks concerning entrepreneurial competences and longitudinal research designs are missing, Paper 3 addresses this research gap by analysing whether students who participate in a mini-company develop entrepreneurial competences. Since this entrepreneurial programme is allocated with the experiential learning and teaching approach by creating a real-life situation, the topic of experiential learning and its theory is elucidated, next to the findings of the empirical study built upon the validated and psychometrically sound research instrument presented in Paper 2. The results of this quasi-experimental study with a pre-test/post-test design and a control group are presented in Paper 3 and show that students expand their entrepreneurial competences specifically on an economic level. In comparison, they show only limited developments on the personal and on the team level. All papers in this dissertation investigated the research questions and are embedded in theoretical approaches towards entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship education programmes. Results are summarized and discussed in relation to strengths and limitations of the present dissertation which will then direct to implications for future research and further policy and practice.

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