About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6022-6031
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain

SPREADING AND STRENGTHENING OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION

H. Immonen

North-Karelia University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
It is well known that In many developed countries highly educated people tend to lack entrepreneurial intentions. For society this is a problem because considerable investments to higher education are not fully realized by the fact that better educated people shy away from entrepreneurial activities.

Traditional approaches to overcome this problem have emphasized the importance of business and financial management skills. Yet, research shows that traditional lectures of management theory can actually decrease entrepreneurial intentions among participants. Likely reason is that most of the technical business management knowledge is written from existing businesses perspective. Thus the transition from a lone student to a successful company seems to require big investments and wide variety of highly specified technical skills, which most students don’t have. This traditional paradigm assumes that entrepreneurial intention is already in place, people just need to get the skills and knowledge for running a business. The failure of this thinking is most evident when we look at the fact that in many universities business administration graduates are among the least active in new business creation.

In this paper the problem of entrepreneurship promotion is seen from a fresh perspective. Instead of focusing on technical skills, the problem is reframed as a challenge of spreading the entrepreneurial intention i.e. simple thinking and activity patterns commonly associated with entrepreneurial people and cultures. This challenge is met by utilizing an emerging scientific framework of memetics i.e. the science of analyzing culture, habits and actions as evolving patterns of knowledge. Memetic thinking is applied to the problem at hand at two levels by: 1. Defining entrepreneurship as a fuzzily bounded set of simple intuitive behavioral patterns (which operate at a more general level than technical management knowledge), and 2. Developing pedagogical tools focused on the acquisition and strengthening of entrepreneurial memes among students.

This memetics inspired approach was implemented and further developed during a one month long intensive entrepreneurship course worth 5 ECTS credits, which run 11 times in a two-year EU funded development project. Courses had altogether 200 participants representing 28 nationalities, four different educational levels from secondary level to PhD-students and a multitude of different majors such as forestry, design and computer science. Feedback from students was often extremely favorable e.g. on some courses 100 % reporting that they would recommend the course to a friend and 100 % saying that they would establish a business in the future. Most importantly, within 19 months after the beginning of the first course at least 10 companies have been established employing 29 individuals.

Looking forward, the conceptualization of entrepreneurship as a set of very generally applicable simple thinking and behavior patterns, and the development of memetics inspired pedagogical tools can be seen to pave way for a new kind of higher education systems and curriculums, which balance deep specialized knowledge with robust general skills and thinking.
@InProceedings{IMMONEN2011SPR,
author = {Immonen, H.},
title = {SPREADING AND STRENGTHENING OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION},
series = {4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-3324-4},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {6022-6031}}
TY - CONF
AU - H. Immonen
TI - SPREADING AND STRENGTHENING OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION
SN - 978-84-615-3324-4/2340-1095
PY - 2011
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2011
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2011 Proceedings
SP - 6022
EP - 6031
ER -
H. Immonen (2011) SPREADING AND STRENGTHENING OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION, ICERI2011 Proceedings, pp. 6022-6031.
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