The diverse agendas of faculty within an institutionalized model of entrepreneurship education.
Entrepreneurship education has been broadened to include a wide variety of disciplines and areas of study beyond the management fields. However, little attention has been given to the diverse motives and practices of the faculty who participate in multidisciplinary models of entrepreneurship education. This research explores the factors driving a diverse group of faculty to participate in an institutionalized model of entrepreneurship education. The study reveals entrepreneurial agendas that are oriented toward educational, economic, and social outcomes, as well as provides examples of how diverse disciplines and academic fields of study stand to benefit from an entrepreneurial spirit and turn of mind.
The field of entrepreneurship education is rapidly expanding across the United States (U.S.) higher education landscape (Chamey & Libecap, 2003; Katz, 2003). This growth has not been limited to business education as demonstrated by an increase in the number of non-management faculty and students engaging in entrepreneurship education activities (Greene, Katz, & Johannisson, 2004; Solomon, Duffy, & Tarabishy, 2002). The multidisciplinary expansion of entrepreneurship education is evidenced in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation awarding $25 million in funding to eight colleges and universities in 2003 and another $25.5 million to nine additional colleges and universities in 2006 for the purpose of institutionalizing the entrepreneurship as a field of study (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2007). While the integration of entrepreneurialism into disciplines and areas of study outside of the management fields has encountered skepticism the trend continues (Carey, 2005),. Beyond the recognition that academic work is inherently entrepreneurial (Hildebrand, 2005), little is known about the factors motivating professors with a diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds to engage in entrepreneurship education. Therefore, research specific to the motives and practices of faculty beyond the management fields who are active in entrepreneurship education is both timely and warranted.
In this paper, a qualitative, single case study explores the underpinnings of faculty engaged in an institutionalized model of entrepreneurship education. The purpose of this research is not to develop broad generalizations applicable to all professors engaged in entrepreneurship education. Rather, this research describes a case useful in deepening the understanding of the diversity in which certain faculty within a variety of disciplines and fields of study respond to and engage in entrepreneurship education. The case is centered on an institutionalized model of entrepreneurship education at a high research activity university located within the U.S. along the Mexican border. The pseudonyms Entrepreneurial University (EU) and Entrepreneurial City (EC) have been used to identify the university and the city housing the institution to protect the confidentiality of participants.
The case includes a diverse sample of mostly tenured professors who engaged in entrepreneurship education in large part to enhance existing personal and professional entrepreneurial agendas, which were attempting to solve a range of educational, economic, an/or social problems. This group of faculty was recruited by the director of EU's entrepreneurship center in large part based on a demonstrated interest in the integration of entrepreneurial principles into their work. Of importance is that the professors did not engage in entrepreneurship education only in pursuit of resources or purely in response to institutional pressure to become more entrepreneurial. In other words, the institutionalization entrepreneurship education at EU was not the initiating force behind the entrepreneurial interests of the participating faculty members.
Meyer (2001) forecasts business college administrators and faculty will increasingly embrace entrepreneurship education as the field continues to migrate across disciplinary boundaries and becomes positioned closer to the core of institutional agendas. Katz (2003) indicates entrepreneurship education is integrating across disciplinary boundaries regardless of the degree of involvement and support of the business schools that traditionally house centers of entrepreneurship education, which threatens to dilute entrepreneurship. Therefore, this study's focus on a highly collaborative, cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship education model is timely for leaders of existing entrepreneurship centers seeking to expand the disciplinary scope of the field of study while maintaining its position within schools of business. Similarly, the case provides to academic professionals outside of entrepreneurship education examples of how entrepreneurial principles and practices stand to advance diverse scholarly, institutional, economic, and social goals and agendas.
LITERATURE AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
Scholarship addressing the movement of higher education toward the marketplace often focuses on how academic practices are increasingly modeling the principles of the private economy. Accordingly, there exists a robust body of literature addressing the implications of private market influences on colleges and universities. Mars (2006) places the multidisciplinary expansion of entrepreneurship education within the context of the commercialization of higher education. According to Slaughter and Leslie (1997) and Slaughter and Rhoades (2004), faculty members most often engage in market behaviors out of necessity due to the scarcity of resources, in the pursuit of economic and financial rewards, or both. David L. Kirp (2003) presents a more sharply contrasted view when presenting a dichotomy consisting of professors who either embrace or oppose the inclusion of market ideologies and behaviors into academic practices. Geiger (2004) discusses the challenges facing faculty members who are increasingly expected to integrate technology transfer activities, which are emblematic of private market ideologies, into already over-extended professional and scholarly agendas. The aforementioned works document and analyze the structural and sociological shifts that are occurring within higher education as a result of the growing presence of market forces within postsecondary institutions. However, this literature does not fully capture the diversity of how entrepreneurial professors leverage market-oriented initiatives in pursuit of outcomes beyond the generation of revenues and resources.
The term entrepreneurship is often used by scholars in misguided ways and therefore requires defining. Drucker (1993) calls upon Schumpeter's seminal work to define entrepreneurship as innovative processes intended on disrupting existing economic and social structures. The disruption is purposeful with the desired outcomes being the more efficient and equitable distribution of resources and ultimately the accumulation of wealth. In regards to the entrepreneur, Thomas and Mueller (2000) identify entrepreneurial qualities as "foresight and energy, passion and perseverance, initiative and drive" (p. 290). Lounsbury and Gynn (2001) contend entrepreneurs operate from a cultural perspective that encourages the development of legitimizing stories designed to secure the resources needed to innovate and create wealth. Further, entrepreneurial principles are often applied to the efforts to solve social problems (Dees, 1998). Social entrepreneurship refers to maximizing limited, finite resources in order to produce innovative and sustainable social change (Bornstein, 2004). One primary example of social entrepreneurship is the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winning Grameen Bank, which provides collateral-free credit to poor populations within the country of Bangladesh. Ultimately, entrepreneurship is a disruptive and creative process that involves calculated risk taking for the purpose of redistributing and maximizing resources and developing more efficient economic and/or social infrastructures.
Throughout this study, the preceding conceptualization of entrepreneurship guides what approaches and activities are considered entrepreneurial. In the context of higher education, neither the professor seeking grant funding nor the student selling class notes are entrepreneurs. These behaviors are not inherently innovative nor do they imply a redistribution of resources under the auspices of efficiency and wealth accumulation. However, the professor who alters established curriculum in an effort to promote the emergence of student-driven spin-off ventures is an example of an academic entrepreneur. Further, the hypothetical social scientist that creates strategic partnerships with venture capitalists in order to encourage disenfranchised student populations to use entrepreneurship as means of procuring resources for their communities is an example of a social entrepreneur. In short, entrepreneurship in the true sense of the meaning compliments rather than opposes many of the norms and values of higher education.
Entrepreneurship as a field of study within higher education is a relatively recent phenomenon (Kuratko, 2006). Accordingly, the body of scholarship specific to entrepreneurship education is burgeoning. The primary distinction of the present research is the focus on the sociological implications of institutionalized entrepreneurship education on those academics who are involved in the field's cross-disciplinary expansion. Finkle and Deeds (2001) indicate there is a significant degree of resistance within the academy to the expansion of entrepreneurship education even though the field continues to grow in popularity. Kuratko (2005) states assistant professors seeking tenure face serious risks when engaging in entrepreneurship education. These risks are heightened for those academics outside of the management fields that become active in the expansion of entrepreneurship education. Therefore, understanding the motives and agendas driving faculty to engage in entrepreneurship education in spite of the potential detriments to their careers is important to overcoming the likely pitfalls to the enhancement and expansion of the field based on academic structures and the rigors of tenure acquisition. In the most ideal of situations, the merits of entrepreneurship as a field of study will be demonstrated to such a degree that associated efforts will enhance rather diminish tenure portfolios regardless of disciplinary affiliation. The inclusion of entrepreneurial minded academics located across a wide range of disciplinary fields in the expansion of entrepreneurship education represents an important strategy in responding to Meyer's (2001) "challenge to work for institutionalization of the entrepreneurship vision and educational mission" (p. 3)
James O. Fiet (2001a, 2001b) argues that the legitimacy and further development of entrepreneurship as a field of study hinges on the establishment of a broadly accepted theory of entrepreneurship and a corresponding pedagogical approach to entrepreneurship education that infuses the aforesaid theory. Entrepreneurial theory is critical to the ability of students to appropriately consider conditions that are not readily available through observation (Fiet, 2001 a). In other words, entrepreneurship education should provide students with a theoretical compass useful in navigating the future economic and/or social conditions that will in a large part determine the outcomes of new ventures. The principles, methods, and philosophies embedded in entrepreneurial theory and subsequently entrepreneurship education are applicable to a wide range of applications and environments. Kuratko (2005) states an entrepreneurial perspective "can be exhibited inside or outside an organization, in profit and not-for-profit enterprises, and in business or nonbusiness activities for the purpose of bringing forth creative ideas" (p. 578). In short, the diverse range and applicability of the knowledge and skill sets that constitute entrepreneurship as a field of study are not limited by disciplinary boundaries.
Organizational structures such as institutionalized entrepreneurship education centers are complex, fluid, and often abstract in nature. Therefore, exploring such structures is difficult. This study relies on Shein's (2004) tri-level model of organizational culture as an analytical framework useful in organizing and making meaning of the collected data. Shein's model deconstructs organizational structures according to three distinct levels within the context of group members. The three levels include artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and underlying basic assumptions. Artifacts are the observable traits of group members and from which meaning is difficult to extract. Espoused beliefs and values represent the strategic and philosophical underpinnings of a group and are more abstract than artifacts. The third level of Shein's model is termed basic underlying assumptions. This level is least observable, but most powerful. The assumptions are deeply ingrained in the belief systems of group members and thus are highly sustainable and not easily displaced or replaced. The researcher has the responsibility of interpreting the significance of the basic assumptions of organizational members. Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, and Rhoads (2004) provide precedence in the merits of Shein's model as a framework useful in exploring academic cultures. The tri-level model assisted this researcher in organizing and coding the data specific to the faculty who participated in EU's institutionalized model of entrepreneurship education.
The aforementioned literature is the conceptual starting point for this study's exploration of one case of institutionalized entrepreneurship education and the entrepreneurial traits, motives, and practices of the diverse set of faculty members engaged in this initiative. Close attention is paid to the ways professors leverage their involvement in entrepreneurship education to advance agendas that are developed around pedagogical, professional, economic, and/ or social goals and objectives. The insights offered through this case study will shed light on how entrepreneurship education can advance economic agendas, but also efforts to create social change. Accordingly, the paper highlights the applicability of entrepreneurial principles and practices to the efforts of faculty regardless of discipline and academic field of study. In short, this study is guided by two primary questions:
1) What are the traits, motives, and practices of the faculty members who participate in institutionalized models of entrepreneurship education?
2) How does entrepreneurship education intersect the agendas and practices of faculty located outside of the management fields?
This study has been developed using data included in a larger study of the expansion of entrepreneurship education (Mars, 2006). During the fall 2005, Mars analyzed two expanding entrepreneurship education models with one being located in a Carnegie classified research institution with high research activity in the Southwest and the other in a very high research activity institution in the Midwest. The selection of the sites was the result of a purposeful environmental scan of 112 U.S. colleges and universities offering entrepreneurship as a formal field of study. The selection criteria included: (a) the presence of a formalized, institutionally recognized entrepreneurship education center; (b) the goal of institutionalizing entrepreneurship education; and (c) the existence of or intended goal of establishing an entrepreneurial incubator accessible to students and faculty within the entrepreneurship education center. In this paper, focus is placed exclusively on the Southwest institution, which has been given the pseudonym Entrepreneurial University (EU), due the depth and richness of the data specific to this site. The entrepreneurship education center at EU is an established organization that has received significant external funding for the purposes of expanding entrepreneurial training and activities across a diverse set of academic disciplines and fields of study. Accordingly, a formal, multidisciplinary group of faculty participants has been created and maintained for education, research, entrepreneurial, and advisory purposes. This faculty body provided a dependable and trustworthy sample appropriate to the objectives of this study.
A qualitative, single case study approach was used to capture and better understand the impetus driving the participation of faculty in EU's institutionalized entrepreneurship education initiative. The case study method allows for the examination of a single site and requires data that are thorough and from numerous informational sources (Creswell, 1998; 2005; Stake, 1995). The primary method of data collection was face-to-face interviews with a sample of the EU faculty who were actively engaged in entrepreneurship education. The interview protocol was semi-structured and allowed for in-depth exploration of the research topic (Marshall & Rossman, 1995). The interview summaries were member checked to verify accuracy and to enhance trustworthiness.
Initially, all faculty sitting on entrepreneurship education center institutional advisory board (n = 20) were contacted and invited to participate in this study as an interviewee. As will be described later in this paper, a majority of the faculty members sitting on the center's advisory board were engaged in entrepreneurial activities prior to the formalized effort to institutional entrepreneurship education across the EU campus. Therefore, the institutionalization of entrepreneurship education represented to most of the participating faculty members an opportunity to enhance existing entrepreneurial agendas rather than a reason to create entrepreneurial agendas as a method of seeking out scarce resources. Ultimately, 12 interviews were conducted, each of which lasted between 45 minutes to two hours. In other words, 60% of the professors formally associated with EU's entrepreneurship education center participated in this study, which constitutes a sufficient representation of the entire advisory board. This sample is robust, as Creswell (2002) recommends three to five participants for a case study. The sample is best described as multidisciplinary and tenured. Table 1 provides a demographic overview of the faculty sample according to academic rank, level of education, and discipline/field of study. Pseudonyms are used for the name of participants whose works are cited in this study in order to ensure confidentiality.
Data extracted from interviews and analyzed documents were coded using a structured scheme organized by discipline/field of study, market orientation, and personal and social agendas. Market orientation refers to the location of each faculty member's discipline/field of study in relation to the private economy. The large amounts of gathered data were organized and analytically managed using Shein's (2004) tri-level model of organizational culture. Artifacts included the collected and analyzed documents, while the espoused norms and values were extracted from interview data. The basic underlying assumptions were interpreted in accordance with the themes that emerged from the analyzed documents and interview data.
The analyzed documents included course syllabi, web pages, brochures, and formal policy statements associated with entrepreneurship education. Further, the collection of faculty artifacts included current and past research agendas, instructional histories, records of entrepreneurial activities, and community service projects. The institutional artifacts selected for analysis provided details of programmatic structure, historical data on the evolution of entrepreneurship education at the university, policy statements regarding the institutionalization of entrepreneurship education, and information outlining the entrepreneurial activities of university faculty members. This analytical approach resulted in the development of an entrepreneurial continuum anchored on one end by those academics in disciplinary fields closest to the market and on the other end by those in disciplinary fields furthest from the market (sees Figure 1).
Interviews were coded using a structural scheme identical to what was used in coding the data extracted from the analyzed documents. The interview data revealed the espoused norms and values of the faculty participants, which in turn were positioned along the entrepreneurial continuum. In other words, the comments, statements, and entrepreneurial agenda of each interviewed faculty member were placed within the context of market location. Lastly, the proffered method of conceptualization allowed for a sophisticated exploration and interpretation of the basic underlying assumptions of the faculty comprising the sample and the identification of emergent sociological themes related to EU's developing entrepreneurship education model.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
According to the most recent Carnegie Classification, EU is a university with high research activity. The geographical location of the university adds to the richness of this study. More specifically, EU is located within a large international metroplex that is divided by the U. S./Mexico border and is characterized as being an economically stagnant region. The efforts to revive the borderland region's economy had been centered on high technology initiatives, manufacturing, and global trade activities. EU had positioned these economic development efforts at the core of its institutional mission. Likewise, the entrepreneurship education center had been strategically aligned with the institution's economic development agenda.
The center was well funded with $2 million in backing from a prominent national intermediary with a commitment to creating and enhancing entrepreneurial bridges between institutions of higher education and private markets. The funding directly supported the institutionalization of entrepreneurship education across a wide variety of academic disciplines and fields of study. The tangible benefits made available to faculty participants as a result of these external dollars included monies for professional development specific to entrepreneurship education (i.e., national conferences and trainings); student enrollments linked to courses cross listed with entrepreneurship; and entrepreneurial support of personal market ventures and community-projects. The more abstract benefits included the generation of social capital through the participation in an initiative directly aligned with institutional efforts to promote economic development in the region surrounding EU; avenues to research support for innovative scholarship; promotion of home departments to students; and the opportunity to provide students with unique sets of entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.
As previously mentioned, the faculty body active in the institutionalization of entrepreneurship education at EU was best described as tenured and multidisciplinary. According to the entrepreneurship education director:
The Center seeks out and identifies those faculty "outliers" who have a pre-existing interest in entrepreneurship. By identifying faculty across disciplines with common interests, we [entrepreneurship education center leadership] bring them together within one common organizational structure--the entrepreneurship education center. Also, we do not recruit faculty without tenure, as their participation in the center's activities are not helpful in gaining promotion and tenure. (interview P1 EU, September 29, 2005)
Specifically, the professors participating in the expansion of entrepreneurship education included 12 full professors, 7 associate professors, and 1 assistant professor and represented disciplines and academic fields of study ranging from African American studies to civil engineering.
The demographics of the faculty body recruited to both support and help direct the institutionalization of entrepreneurship education at EU is important. First, the preexisting entrepreneurial interests and agendas of the majority of the participating professors demonstrate the collaborative nature of the institutionalization effort. More specifically, the pursuit of scarce resources through the affiliation with a university-supported entrepreneurial endeavor was not found to be the primary underlying motivation behind the faculty's involvement with the cross-disciplinary expansion of the entrepreneurship education at EU. While the faculty participants undoubtedly sought resources to support existing agendas, none were found to have created an entrepreneurial agenda as a means of accessing a portion of the $2,000,000 of funding tied to the entrepreneurship education center. Second, the tenured status of most of the faculty reduced the professional risks associated with engaging in scholarship and service activities outside of discipline-specific boundaries. The rationale for recruiting tenured and therefore professionally secure faculty is consistent with Finkle's and Deeds's (2001) and Kuratko's (2005) description of entrepreneurship as a marginalized academic field of study.
Closest To The Market
The EU engineering and materials science faculty members participating in entrepreneurship education showed a history of entrepreneurial activities. A materials science full professor spent the first half of his career working as a researcher in a private laboratory and was the co-founder of EU's first start-up company. A civil engineering professor was the co-founder and co-owner of an international consulting firm that managed the construction of large domed buildings and sporting arenas. Also, an electrical and computer engineering full professor reported a long history of entrepreneurial ventures that included founding a company in the 1980s that pioneered the construction of an information highway connecting organizations located throughout the Pacific Northwest. The aforesaid examples indicate the engineers and materials scientist had been engaged in entrepreneurial activities prior to becoming involved in EU's efforts to institutionalize entrepreneurship education.
The engineers and materials scientist embraced the integration of entrepreneurial principles into their professional and scholarly practices. First, an electrical and computer engineering professor expressed numerous perceived benefits of entrepreneurship education on all fields of study. The professor stated:
In theory, entrepreneurship education is a good thing. It turns scholarly activities into profit making ventures. Also, it creates an awareness of the value in transferring knowledge to the market. Entrepreneurs should come out of programs that are producing scholarship and intellectual property--such as engineering. (interview P2 EU, September 30, 2005)
The professor believed that entrepreneurial activities within engineering programs were not only acceptable, but beneficial to the field. The premise of this belief was that the university should operate as an economic engine with structures useful in transferring knowledge from laboratories to private markets. To the professor, entrepreneurship education represented a structure useful in promoting the movement of university-born innovations into the economy.
This electrical and computer engineering professor was not without concerns regarding entrepreneurial activities within colleges and universities. He stated:
Incubators are dangerous. There are legal implications related to conflicts of interest between the public, state-sponsored university and private competitors. Issues of unfair competition seem inherent. (interview P2 EU, September 30, 2005)
These comments did not indicate opposition to entrepreneurial incubators, which are commonly found within entrepreneurship education centers, nor were the concerns related to how entrepreneurship may influence engineering as an academic field of study. Rather, concern was rooted in the potential legal implications of universities as publicly supported organizations engaging in private market activities.
The same professor held no reservations regarding the implications of entrepreneurship education and related market activities on the socialization of engineering students. Specifically, he stated:
Incubators are good learning experiences for engineering students who will eventually become entrepreneurs in their fields. I have no concerns that students would drop out of school to pursue an entrepreneurial venture. If they do and are successful, that is all that matters. Degrees are not prerequisites to success. (interview P2 EU, September 30, 2005)
Thus, the professor was not opposed to a student choosing an entrepreneurial venture over a college education. However, the professor did not account for the implications of market failure on those students opting out of college in favor of pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity.
The materials science professor expressed similar views on the potential implications of entrepreneurship education on his discipline and students. In describing his views on infusing entrepreneurial principles into the materials science curriculum, he stated:
Entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary learning is the wave of the future. Some faculty see interdisciplinary models as threatening to their academic turf. I think the interdisciplinary idea threatens people. Entrepreneurship education creates opportunity structures for students and we [the university] need to serve the students. Students want and need entrepreneurial skill sets, especially those involving intellectual property rights and business plan development. (interview P3, EU September 28, 2005)
The professor accepted entrepreneurship education as an innovative trend and a near obligation of the university to its students. The professor's entrepreneurial record reflected his commitment to student entrepreneurship in that the founding partner of his spin-off company was a former graduate student trained under his supervision.
The views of the relationship between entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education, and engineering expressed by the professor of civil engineering paralleled those held by the professors of electrical and computer engineering and of materials science. The professor purported:
Students need entrepreneurial skills. To do engineering you need to be good at sales. Engineering students most often have no business skills or training in sales. They are disadvantaged when they reach the job market. (interview P4 EU, September 28, 2005)
The comments denoted the professor's support of entrepreneurship education and the integration of entrepreneurial principles into the existing engineering curriculum. The professor went on to state:
The dean of the College of Engineering included in the college's strategic plan points encouraging the embedding of entrepreneurship in the engineering curriculum. The dean believes entrepreneurship education is a way to help the college meet its obligation to the university's efforts to enhance the economic development of Entrepreneurial City. (interview P4, EU September 28, 2005)
Thus, the institutional norm of embracing entrepreneurship and the market was further evident at the administrative level of the EU College of Engineering.
Furthest From The Market
The faculty in the social sciences and liberal arts participating in entrepreneurship education at EU engaged in entrepreneurial activities and interests that were different than those of the engineers and materials scientist. The activities of the social scientists were not closely aligned with the private market, but rather with scholarly interests and community service initiatives. In other words, the entrepreneurial activities of the social science and liberal arts faculty were linked to their disciplinary interests and mostly representative of social entrepreneurship.
The associate professor of African American studies, who was also a member of the history faculty, had a longstanding research agenda centered on the implications of business and entrepreneurship on the social and economic advent of the American Black community. This faculty member's dissertation examined the entrepreneurial philosophies of Emmett Jay Scott, a historic leader within the Black community. Scott, a follower of Booker T. Washington, argued in 1915 that one primary way for the Black community to advance its social position was through entrepreneurship and independence from the dominant White economy (Jones, 1983) (Jones has been used in order to protect the participant's anonymity.) Also, the associate professor published in a 2003 edition of the Harvard Business Review an essay articulating the efficacy of entrepreneurship as a vehicle for the societal advancement of African American communities. Finally, the same faculty member conducted workshops on entrepreneurial practices within local Black communities. The preceding activities of the associate professor of African American studies reveal his belief in entrepreneurship as a catalyst for sustainable social and economic gains in African American communities.
The associate professor of women's studies, who was also a member of the sociology faculty, had an interest in the implications of business education on female college students. For example, this faculty member conducted research on the gendered perceptions of the benefits and barriers associated with pursuing a business degree at the university, as well as the viability of women successfully pursuing business careers within the communities surrounding EU. This research was grounded in the notion of business education serving as a vehicle for advancing the social and economic positions of women residing in the economically stagnant region encompassing EU. Also, the same interviewee developed a course in partnership with the director of the entrepreneurship education center, which was titled "Women in Business." The course encouraged incoming female undergraduates to consider careers in entrepreneurship and business as a means of achieving financial security and independence.
The Chicano studies full professor did not have an active history of scholarship in areas related to business or entrepreneurship. His research agenda centered on the intersections of public and economic policy and Mexican American populations. For example, the professor had examined the implications of higher education financing on Hispanic students in the states of Texas and California. The professor's support and growing interest in entrepreneurship were evidenced by the hybrid"' courses he was developing. The courses, titled "Entrepreneurs in Entrepreneurial City" and "Entrepreneurs in the Transnational Context," were being designed to attract students to the Chicano studies minor, which would eventually include a track specific to entrepreneurship in the Hispanic context. Also, these courses were intended on supporting the Chicano studies department goal of training students as agents of social and economic change within the borderland region housing EU.
Interview data revealed a normative structure grounded in social advancement, justice, and equality common to the social scientists and liberal arts faculty participating in EU's expanding entrepreneurship education model. Broadly, this group of faculty identified entrepreneurship as a potentially powerful mechanism for social change within the economically stagnant region surrounding EU. However, and unlike the engineers and materials scientist, the social scientists and liberal arts faculty voiced concerns regarding the potential implications of entrepreneurship on their curricula and students. The concerns center on the migration of students from the societal and humanitarian roots of their primary fields of study towards more capitalist ideologies. Additionally, concerns related to the potential student attrition and conflicts of interests linked to an increase in market initiatives sponsored by the university were voiced by this group of faculty.
The associate professor of African American studies indicated longstanding personal and scholarly interests in how entrepreneurship has and continues to benefit the social and economic positions of Blacks in the United States. He stated:
Historically, Blacks in America have under-utilized their community resources. By integrating entrepreneurship into the African American studies curriculum, students will be better equipped to capitalize on existing and future community and economic resources. One goal is to challenge preconceived notions of Blacks being unable to succeed in business by producing entrepreneurial role models. I believe social transformation is possible with the help of entrepreneurship education. (interview P7 EU, September 28, 2005)
The associate professor viewed entrepreneurship as a tool useful in promoting social growth and economic prosperity within African American communities. Specifically, the inclusion of entrepreneurial principles in the African American studies curriculum was intended on equipping Blacks with the capacities to independently create social and economic change within their communities.
The African American studies associate professor was also in favor of the emergence of university sponsored student entrepreneurs as evidenced by the following statement:
I have no reservations regarding students using university resources to promote their own businesses. Students should be awarded for their work. It is a matter of equity, fairness, and recognition. Also, entrepreneurial projects can serve as a collective learning process, which requires students to think critically and more abstractly. (interview P7 EU, September 28, 2005)
The associate professor's personal and academic philosophies included the belief in Blacks maximizing all available resources to promote social and economic prosperity within their communities. Such efficiency and independence would require the redistribution of economic and social resources, which is an endeavor best served by an entrepreneurial turn of mind. Therefore, the faculty member's acceptance of and participation in entrepreneurship education was reflective of his own socially-oriented entrepreneurial agenda.
The associate professor of women's studies saw entrepreneurship education as a viable means of advancing the social and economic status of women in the communities surrounding EU. She stated "Entrepreneurship may equip students with the background and confidence needed to both pursue a business education and a career in Entrepreneurial City" (interview P8 EU, September 29, 2005). The remarks underscore her aspirations of breaking down the barriers that discouraged women from gaining independence and occupational success in the borderland region. Like the African American studies faculty member, the associate professor of women's studies participation was an extension of her own socially-oriented entrepreneurial agenda.
Like entrepreneurship education, women's studies was an expanding academic field on the EU campus. The associate professor of women's studies outlined a reciprocal, but potentially conflicting relationship between her academic unit and the entrepreneurship education center. She stated:
One primary objective is to institutionalize women's studies, which involves extending the field beyond the liberal arts. Traditionally, the exclusive location of women's studies within the liberal arts was protected. I am a proponent of partnering with the entrepreneurship center as long as the collaboration is multidisciplinary and not interdisciplinary, which involves picking and borrowing. I do not want women's studies to move toward policy issues and away from sociological issues. (interview P8 EU, September 29, 2005)
These comments reveal a conflict between the faculty member's disciplinary norms, which were grounded in sociology, and her desire to promote the position and legitimacy of women's studies across the university.
The associate professor of women's studies also held views on the emergence of university sponsored student entrepreneur. Interestingly, she was supportive of student entrepreneurialism, but adamantly believed the university should stand to profit from any resulting market successes. She stated:
I am not opposed to students engaging in capitalist activities while enrolled at EU. However, these students should have the obligation of giving back to the university once they are successful. Higher education is way under funded. Student entrepreneurs are similar to student athletes. Those who go professional and the teams who draft them should compensate universities for the training provided. (interview P8 EU, September 29, 2005)
The associate professor's position on student entrepreneurialism was not one of opposition, but rather one based on principles of mutual compensation. In other words, the university should realize a return on its investments in the entrepreneurial efforts of students. It is not evident that student entrepreneurialism contradicted the interviewee's personal and professional normative structures and value systems. However, the faculty member's support of the university sponsored student entrepreneur was based on equity rather than the accumulation of institutional wealth. The focus on equity differs from the engineering and materials science faculty interviewees who placed primary emphasis on traditional capitalist values.
The Chicano studies professor was also engaged in entrepreneurship education as an extension of an existing social agenda. For example, he stated:
The bulk of [Chicano studies] students are working in the social service sector, which includes serving the portion of the population falling below the poverty level. One objective of including entrepreneurship in the Chicano Studies curriculum is to promote students developing into effective agents of social change within not just Hispanic communities, but the entire Entrepreneurial City community. The goal of the Chicano program is to provide students with saleable skills and to produce experts in the Mexican culture. (interview P9 EU, September 28, 2005)
Despite the benefits of entrepreneurship education to Chicano studies students and the constituents they would eventually serve, the professor was concerned that the "glamour" of entrepreneurship would encourage students to leave college in pursuit of perceived market opportunities. Thus, while recognizing the potential value of entrepreneurship to his academic field, students, and the Hispanic community, the professor was hesitant to completely embrace the collaboration.
The social scientists and liberal arts faculty at EU outlined the context of entrepreneurship as a set of behaviors and a field of study within the context of socially-oriented agendas. The inclusion of entrepreneurship in their scholarly, professional, and civic practices was embedded in principles of social entrepreneurship. Even more specific, the social scientists and liberal arts faculty hoped the integration of entrepreneurial principles into their established normative structures and value systems would promote social change and advancements across disenfranchised populations.
Like all entrepreneurial ventures, the participation of the social scientists and liberal arts faculty in EU's entrepreneurship education initiative did not come without risks. Specifically, the faculty members purported concerns that the permeation of entrepreneurship into their academic fields may threaten the fundamentals of their disciplines and professional practices, as well as the scholarly commitments of their students. Interestingly, the concerns of the faculty members were linked to their academic fields and students rather than to the stability of their own careers.
At EU, a diverse spectrum of motives and practices framed faculty participation in the university's institutionalized model of entrepreneurship education. Professors from a wide range of disciplines and fields of study engaged in entrepreneurship education out of personal interest, in response to the university's evolving economic priorities, in efforts to enhance student competitiveness in the labors market, and to leverage economic and social agendas. The variations in the forces driving faculty to be active in entrepreneurship education and the related outcomes have been conceptualized in the preceding findings section in relation to relative proximity to the private market.
The underpinnings of the involvement of the engineers and materials scientist in entrepreneurship education at EU are described as being typical entrepreneurialism. That is, the scholarship, innovations, and commercial histories of these academics mirror the high-tech, knowledge-based nature of the current economy. This contemporary or "new" economy is the primary impetus behind the ongoing permeation of the market into US colleges and universities (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004). The close proximity of the engineers and the materials scientist to the new economy is easily recognized through the technology-based market ventures of these academics. Also, these commercial activities parallel the economic development initiatives and goals of the borderland region housing EU.
The engineers and materials scientist held similar positions related to the intersections of entrepreneurship education and each of their fields of study and professional practices. These professors consistently described common benefits to their participation in entrepreneurship education, which included gains realized by the students within each department. First, students were thought to be primarily destined to careers in the private market regardless of each department's participation in entrepreneurship education. The integration of entrepreneurship education into the engineering and materials sciences curricula was seen as a means of bolstering the entrepreneurial skills sets and labor market competitiveness of students. However, the faculty members held a common concern regarding the legal implications of student involvement in university-spawned market ventures. Accordingly, the engineers and materials scientist identified entrepreneurship education as an effective avenue for educating students on intellectual property rights, patenting, and copyrighting.
The engineers and materials scientist were acutely aware of EU's institutional priority to serve as a primary catalyst to economic development within the surrounding borderland region. These professors referenced this priority when discussing the advantages of participating in the university's efforts to institutionalize entrepreneurship education. Specifically, entrepreneurship education was identified as an opportunity structure for each professor to further align themselves and their department with the university's economic development agenda and to fulfill social obligations to external communities. In this regard, entrepreneurial engagement was partially a strategy used by the professors to increase the flow of institutional and departmental resources and to enhance social standing within and beyond the university. However, the pursuit of resources was not found to be the fundamental factor for their participation in the efforts to expand entrepreneurship education across the EU campus.
In part, the entrepreneurship education center created sources of investment capital essential to start-up initiatives located within the university through the creation and management of networks with private sector investors and venture capitalists. The push to expand technology transfer activities and the number of spin-off companies launched from the university was a highly visible institutional priority. For example, the materials scientist leveraged this entrepreneurial climate for personal gain as evidenced by his leadership in the creation of EU's inaugural spin-off company. This high-tech start-up manufactured environmentally conscious and highly durable paint pigment using an innovative process developed within EU's materials science department. The faculty entrepreneur secured approximately $1 million in venture capital through the entrepreneurship education center's private market network. In other words, the professor realized personal gains through his awareness of and connection to EU's entrepreneurship education center. In return, the expected market sustainability of the enterprise would in theory contribute to regional efforts to establish a vibrant high-tech, knowledge-based industrial sector. In short, the entrepreneurship education center symbolized a source of scarce capital to certain professors with existing entrepreneurial agendas.
The social science and liberal arts professors identified entrepreneurship education as a vehicle for growing departmental enrollments, diversifying existing curricula, and aligning their units with institutional priorities. However, the entrepreneurial efforts of these professors were also motivated by the drive to induce social change. The efforts of the social scientists and liberal arts faculty to utilize alliances with the entrepreneurship education center in support of pre-existing social agendas were creative, innovative, and thus entrepreneurial. These professors assumed the integration of entrepreneurial principles into their professional practices and social pursuits was worth any potential risks. One such risk was the inclusion of entrepreneurship in the social sciences and liberal arts curricula would erode disciplinary focus. For example, the women's studies associate professor was concerned that linking her department with the entrepreneurship education center could detract from the sociological and humanitarian ideologies of her field. Others voiced concerns that the integration of entrepreneurial principles into established curricula would result in a migration of students from the arts and social sciences to more market-oriented fields of study or worse, encourage students to leave the university all together in pursuit of an entrepreneurial venture.
The social scientists and liberal arts faculty consistently expressed an awareness of and commitment to the university's efforts to promote economic development in the borderland region. These professors engaged in entrepreneurship education as an innovative avenue toward social and community advancements rather than in efforts to generate and accumulate financial wealth. In other words, the potential social outcomes of economic development enticed these professors to become involved in entrepreneurship education.
One trait of an entrepreneur is the willingness to take calculated risks (Drucker, 1993). The professors included in this study were assuming some risk by participating in entrepreneurship education at EU. The involvement required allocating scarce time, making curricular concessions, and encouraging students to explore market opportunities outside of disciplinary boundaries. These risks were minimized by the tenure status of the participants. Also, the entrepreneurial climate of EU made entrepreneurship education a vehicle for faculty seeking to position themselves and their work closer to the institutional core. This institutional alignment was especially important to the social scientists and liberal arts faculty whose participation in entrepreneurship education countered distinct, non-market-oriented disciplinary norms and values. Lastly, students who choose entrepreneurial ventures over educational pursuits face much higher degrees of risk than do faculty who engage in entrepreneurial activities. Therefore, research addressing the outcomes and consequences of student entrepreneurship is warranted.
The purpose of this study has been to explore the motivations, practices, and agendas of faculty within a wide variety of academic disciplines who have engaged in an institutionalized model of entrepreneurship education. While generalization is limited, valuable insights have been developed for both faculty and administrators associated with or interested in the expansion of entrepreneurship education across the disciplinary landscapes that comprise colleges and universities. First, the institutionalization of entrepreneurship education at EU was purposeful in recruiting faculty with pre-existing interests in entrepreneurial principles, strategies, and activities. Second, risks associated with the professors participating in an initiative located outside of disciplinary boundaries were minimized by seeking out tenured faculty with relatively stable professional status and standing within the university. Third, incentives specific to each faculty participant's existing professional agenda were embedded in the entrepreneurial expansion model. Finally, entrepreneurship education was aligned with EU's institutional priorities (i.e., economic development) as a means of gaining political legitimacy across the campus. The proffered points constitute one possible framework for the institutionalization of entrepreneurship education at other colleges and universities.
In closing, entrepreneurship education was leveraged by certain EU faculty to advance a wide range of agendas. These agendas, which were educational, economic, and social in scope, are considered entrepreneurial in both design and practice. The realized and anticipated benefits of the entrepreneurial activities included the diversification of student learning and faculty scholarship; economic, social, and political gains by individuals and academic departments; and social advancements within disenfranchised communities. This study has provided rationale and a blueprint for higher education professionals seeking to expand entrepreneurship education beyond the management fields.
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Matthew M. Mars, University of Arizona
Table 1: Faculty Demographics Faculty Degree Discipline Participants Rank 1 Full PhD Political Science 2 Full PhD Chicano Studies 3 Full PhD Management 4 Full PhD Management 5 Full PhD Electrical/Computer Engineering 6 Full PhD Civil Engineering 7 Full PhD Chemistry/Material Sciences 8 Associate PhD African American Studies 9 Associate PhD Economics/Finance 10 Associate PhD Public Administration 11 Associate PhD English Literature 12 Associate PhD Sociology
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|Author:||Mars, Matthew M.|
|Publication:||Journal of Entrepreneurship Education|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
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