WYOMISSING, Pa. — Teaching people to become entrepreneurs requires more than just passing on entrepreneurial skills, according to a team of Penn State Berks-led researchers. Would-be entrepreneurs also need to understand — and negotiate — the barriers that they might face.
In a study, researchers built a multidimensional model to measure the effectiveness of entrepreneurship education. The model not only includes teaching entrepreneurial skills, but also addresses the students’ intentions to start a business and their perceptions of the barriers they might encounter when starting a business.
“There are a lot of studies in the literature that focus on, for example, how entrepreneurship education influences the students’ competence in starting a business,” said Abdullah Konak, professor of information sciences and technology. “But, our model does not look at it from one perspective. We look at it from three perspectives — competencies, intentions and barriers. What we found was that entrepreneurship education helps to increase the students’ skills. If those skills help to reduce the barriers, then it increases their intentions to start a business.”
Traditionally, much of entrepreneurship education offers students lessons to develop skills, for example, offering them an understanding of finance, marketing, intellectual property and team management, Konak added. However, the acquisition of these skills may not directly lead people to start businesses.
“There are a lot of reasons why people don’t want to become entrepreneurs, but one of those reasons is that they see barriers,” said Konak, who is also an Institute for Computational and Data Sciences associate. “Maybe they’re not sure on how to start a business, maybe they’re worried it will take too much time, maybe they think they don’t know the domain well enough — there are a lot of issues.”