Unbounding entrepreneurial intents of university students: a multidisciplinary perspective
Entrepreneurial activities are seen as key drivers of innovation, job creation, and economic growth. Recent efforts are being pursued by several entities, including governments to promote entrepreneurial skills amongst the youngest. However, to design effective programs, policy makers have to uncover the determinants of entrepreneurship. To avoid that such efforts would be fruitless we argue that a multidisciplinary account of entrepreneurial intents among students is mandatory, circumventing past biased analysis towards business and engineering areas. Thus, in this paper we present the results of a survey to all final year university students of the largest Portuguese university. It encompasses a sample of 2431 students enrolled in 60 different undergraduate courses of 14 schools/faculties. Results evidence that the average entrepreneurial intents reaches a reasonable (by international standards) figure of 27%, with students enrolled in non-traditionally entrepreneurial focused areas – Humanities, Sports, Health and Sciences – and courses - Pharmacy, Veterinary, Law, Languages, History, History of the Arts and Archaeology, Sports, Biology and Chemistry, Dentistry - revealing higher entrepreneurial intents. Based on logit estimations, we further found that psychological factors, such as risk propensity, leadership profile, and creativeness, are the most important (positive) determinants of students’ entrepreneurial intents. Contextual factors (e.g., family background and professional experience) failed to emerge as critical factors in explaining students’ entrepreneurial intents - only business context emerged as important. Despite such results might at a first glance convey the idea that education policy for promoting entrepreneurship has limited application, we argue that it is not the case. What is required is different policy measures targeting students’ attitudes and behaviors in both business and non business areas, avoiding the long-established mistake of confining entrepreneurial education related programs within business schools.
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