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Entrepreneurial education and knowledge: empirical evidence on a sample of German undergraduate students

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the current state of entrepreneurial education and knowledge of German undergraduate students. In our empirical analysis we examine a data set which comprises responses of 386 undergraduate students and which is not biased by program-specific effects. We analyze students’ understanding of aspects that play a crucial role in business start-ups in order to identify gaps in knowledge and relevant competences. We find evidence that the students evaluate schools’ imparting of relevant knowledge for entrepreneurs as rather moderate. Our findings indicate that students’ age, their general level of entrepreneurship-related knowledge, their ambition to become entrepreneurs, the share of relevant material taught in school as well as the assessment of the transfer of competence by the school attended before the bachelors program substantially influence the gaps in knowledge and competences. Based on our findings about the current state of entrepreneurial knowledge and education in Germany, we discuss implications for relevant stakeholders.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In addition, further work presents a non-linear relationship between the level of literacy and selection into entrepreneurship (Neck et al. 2003; Dickson et al. 2008).

  2. 2.

    We conducted the survey at the beginning of a business administration seminar in the winter term.

  3. 3.

    The respondents are between 18 and 33 years old.

  4. 4.

    These fields are chosen as findings in the extant literature show that insufficient knowledge of founders in these areas is likely to result in corporate crisis or even insolvencies (Bradley and Cowdey 2004; Kearney 2009).

  5. 5.

    With respect to the three competences that are stressed in Questions 16–18, Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients were also computed (but are not reported in detail). Interestingly, students that evaluate the transfer of social competences in secondary schools as good tend to exhibit an identical response pattern towards personal competences.

  6. 6.

    The respective fields j are finance, accounting and auditing, corporate planning and management, management accounting, marketing, human resource management, basic law issues, financial aspects, subventions, subsidies and economic aspects.

  7. 7.

    The respective competences k are professional competences (know-how, expertise), social competences (teamwork, motivation etc.) and personal competences (one’s own initiative, self-dependence, goal orientation etc.).

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Correspondence to Andreas Oehler.

Appendix 1: Overview of questions examined in the paper

Appendix 1: Overview of questions examined in the paper

Question Description
1 Your age?
2 Your gender?
6 Do you have any working experience (also apprenticeship)?
7 Are there any self-employed persons in your personal environment?
9 Have you already dealt with the topic entrepreneurial education in the past?
10 How do you assess your knowledge with regard to this topic?
12 Do you aspire to become self-employed during your career/working life?
15 What part has entrepreneurial education taken during your entire education?
16 How do you assess the transfer of competence by the organization you visited before your Bachelors program?
17 How important are the following competences [professional competences, social competences, personal competences] for founders of a new business/start-ups?
18 How do you assess your own competences?
19 How do you assess the education in the following areas of expertise [Finance, Accounting and Auditing, Corporate Planning and Management, Management Accounting, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Basic Law Issues, Fiscal Aspects, Economic Aspects] by the organization you visited before your Bachelors program?
20 How important is knowledge in the following areas of expertise [Finance, Accounting and Auditing, Corporate Planning and Management, Management Accounting, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Basic Law Issues, Fiscal Aspects, Economic Aspects] for start-ups?
21 How do you assess your own knowledge concerning these [see Question 20] areas of expertise?
22 In which institutions do you see accumulated needs in entrepreneurship education?
  1. This table provides an overview of questions in the questionnaire that are thoroughly examined in this paper. In addition, for the reported questions the median values, maximum values and minimum values are provided. The findings with respect to questions that are not reported in the table are described in Sect. 3 (3.1 Data and 3.2 Descriptive Statistics)

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Oehler, A., Höfer, A. & Schalkowski, H. Entrepreneurial education and knowledge: empirical evidence on a sample of German undergraduate students. J Technol Transf 40, 536–557 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-014-9350-2

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Keywords

  • Entrepreneurship policy
  • Entrepreneurial education
  • Entrepreneurial knowledge
  • Teaching
  • Universities
  • Technology transfer

JEL Classification

  • L26
  • I23
  • I25