J. Horowitz Gassol

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (SPAIN)
Entrepreneurship is viewed as one of the major fuels for economic development. It is highly linked to job creation and innovation, which in turn is the basis for the competitiveness of enterprises in a global market. The entrepreneurial attitude of European citizens however, is markedly below those seen in other regions. According to the survey performed in 2009 by the European Commission, less than half of Europeans (45%) expressed the desire to be self-employed compared to 55% of US citizens. This significant difference seems to be mostly related to the negative perception of balance between the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship by Europeans that prefer job stability and a regular income. A change from a “wage-earner culture” into an “entrepreneurial culture” within the parameters and dynamics of the European societal model needs therefore, to take place among the young European population at all levels of education. However, although entrepreneurship education in European universities has been growing over the past five years and is expected to continue growing, entrepreneurship teaching remains primarily elective and tends to be offered in stand-alone courses, rather than being integrated across the curriculum. In addition, there is a much shorter supply of entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate level that in postgraduate and executive education and there is little sharing of the teaching practices across borders.

These state of affairs is not surprising, since when talking about Entrepreneurship we are dealing with a highly complex process and system and therefore, a fit-for all formula or “best practice” for teaching entrepreneurship is not possible; instead the best way to approach entrepreneurship teaching will depend on many factors that must be weighted and balanced. While benefiting from the experience of other regions in entrepreneurial education, it is clear that Europeans face different challenges and situations, which precludes the design of their own formulas and models. These must be constructed within the present European panorama that aims to promote a synergistic and systemic change towards generating an entrepreneurial culture that fits well within Europe’s societal goals of integration, maintenance of diversity and social welfare. Academicians that wish to promote entrepreneurial programs in educational curricula and achieve successful outcomes must follow innovative research approaches and increase the sharing of experiences.

In this paper, which hopes to contribute to the above aims, the analysis and results of an effort to insert entrepreneurial teaching in a traditional non-entrepreneurial undergraduate setting is presented. The work, which expands a period of five years in a publicly funded university in Spain, describes the approach taken with regards to student attitudes and background, existing organizational structures and resources, and established practices in entrepreneurial education. It proposes a pull teaching strategy that can be used to plant the seed of the entrepreneurial spirit in a sparse entrepreneurial academic environment and serve as a basis for developing a more encompassing interdisciplinary program.