EDUCATION AND ENTREPRENEURIAL PERSPECTIVE INTO NON-BUSINESS DISCIPLINES: THE EXPERIENCE OF BIOTECHNOLOGIES
Recent economic trends reinforce the new entrepreneurship centrality in the global scientific and business debate; new ventures are able to create new jobs and generate innovation, investment and economic growth. (Hisrich, Peters, 2002; Henderson 2002)
We may define innovative entrepreneurship as an attitude and a dynamic process of “vision, change and creation”, consisting in the transformation of innovative ideas in a new business experience by using own knowledge, capacities, energies, motivation and time. (Kuratko, 2005)
May the entrepreneurial perspective be taught? Some of the most relevant educators and professionals agree that it is not only a genetic predisposition, but it can be encouraged and promoted. Drucker (1985) affirms that entrepreneurship it’s a discipline, and due to this fact, it can be learned. Colleges and business schools play a crucial role in teaching and promoting the entrepreneurship culture (McQueen and Wallmark, 1982; Smilor, Gibson, Dietrich, 1990); moreover, they give their contribution thanks to a number of technology transfer mechanisms, including Spin Offs. (Mustar, 1997; Clark, 1998; Etzkowitz, 1998).
This paper investigates the conditions fostering the proliferation of non-business student entrepreneurship, by focusing on the education and training side; the university interdisciplinary programs in biotechnologies are specifically deepened.
The student entrepreneurial intentions (Wright 1997; Carter 2002; Segal, Borgia, Schoenfeld, 2002; Poutzioniouris 2003; Basu 2004) are analyzed by using the theory of planned behavior. (Ajzen 1991, Ajzen and Fishbein, 1977; Ajzen and Madden, 1986; Schifter and Ajzen, 1985; Shook, Priem, McGee, 2003) According to the theory, those intentions to act are a reliable predictor of actual future actions. (Gupta, Turban, Bhawe, 2008; Douglas, Shepherd, 2002; Carey, Flanagan and Palmer, 2010; Krueger, Reilly, Carsrud, 2000) By applying the proposed theoretical model, this study proceeds to test the hypotheses that specific individual and education characteristics are able to foster biotech students entrepreneurship.
The methodological approach is based on configurational analysis, in order to take into consideration non-linear relations among variables (Meyer, Tsui, Hinings, 1993) and to go beyond the bivariate interaction. (Black, Boal, 1994; Delery & Doty, 1996) Data for the study are collected from a survey of 30 biotechnology college students, enrolled in technology venturing courses; they are processed by using the QCA set-theoretic method (Qualitative Comparative Analysis; Ragin, 1987, 2000), which conceptualizes the cases as combinations of attributes, so to emphasize their uniqueness.
This paper may originally contribute to the scientific debate for its theoretical and managerial implications; it offers a practical insight by improving general and specific understanding of what motivates non-business students and influences their decision to start a business. The theoretical implications derive from the methodological choice to use QCA to process data; this choice appears to offer interesting possibilities to integrate the theoretical framework into an educational perspective. Furthermore, this study offers managerial and policy implications too; they are related to the indications it provides about entrepreneurial promotion in non-business colleges, in order to guide their students towards entrepreneurship.