Entrepreneurship Education: The Role of Universities
The United States have them, European countries long for them, and universities are supposed to provide them. Entrepreneurs are ubiquitously wanted because of their supposed impact on innovation and economic growth. The underlying mechanism is developed in Schumpeter's (1912) Theory of Economic Development: Based on her exceptional personality and skills the entrepreneur initiates a process of creative destruction and hence acts as ultimate source of economic progress. Against this background, this paper poses the question if entrepreneurship can be taught, and finds some answers in the data of a rich German student survey. The empirical analysis assesses the impact of higher education at universities on the students' entrepreneurial intentions. We choose this focus for two reasons. First, we are interested in entrepreneurship that contributes to economic development. Since we consider innovation as driver of growth, we consequently concentrate on highly skilled individuals who have a comparatively high probability of being innovative. Second, entrepreneurship courses and professorships become increasingly popular at universities and especially business schools. Hence it is relevant to evaluate their impact in order to derive implications for future education measures. As potential goals of an entrepreneurship education, we consider the provision of technical, practical, and social skills that improve an individual's entrepreneurial abilities. These abilities are not predetermined but result from investments in entrepreneurial skills as known from the more general human capital investments. Controlling for endowments from school, socialization and parental role modeling as well as personal characteristics like risk attitude and cognitive capability, we are able to identify the actual influence of university education on entrepreneurship. Our data provides information about structural changes in the entrepreneurship education at 29 German universities over a time period of 23 years. Particularly, we investigate the impact of the introduction of entrepreneurship-courses, the creation of entrepreneurship counseling offices and the establishment of chairs for entrepreneurship on the students' self-reported desire to become an entrepreneur. Using a differences-in-differences approach our analysis evaluates the effectiveness of these different instruments of entrepreneurship education. A comprehensive assessment of associated technical, practical, and social skills rounds up our results.
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