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From Entrepreneur to Undergraduate: Does the University Support or Constrain Student Entrepreneurs?


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This paper focusses on an under researched area of research within the fields of enterprise education and the entrepreneurial start-up. Much of the scholarly focus around enterprise education and support within Higher Education (HE) institutions has been on the development of entrepreneurial identity, capability and intent leading to start-up (Nabi et al 2016). The role of the university is understood in terms of a potential ecosystem supporting and helping to generate entrepreneurial intent and start-ups in response to wider social and economic demands for entrepreneurial action. Arguably, within these discourses and policy literature, the student is assumed to be a blank slate who may have intent and potential but is, nevertheless, a novice with no prior experience. However, there has been little interest in students who begin their HE studies as entrepreneurs and business owners and who have already demonstrated entrepreneurial intent. These students with prior entrepreneurial experience (PEE) are a significant and growing constituency and are likely to have different development needs than students who have no or very limited practical experience of entrepreneurship. PEE students are the focus of this study which uses data drawn from annual surveys distributed at Coventry University over a 3-year period. These surveys identify a number of students who arrive at university with PEE and in many cases continue to run their venture during their studies. This data, which explores characteristics of these entrepreneur students, provides a first insight into this neglected aspect of entrepreneurship education and support. This paper will outline the results of the survey data and discuss the future direction of the research, which will include qualitative methods and interviews with student entrepreneurs. The aim is to begin establishing a focus and research agenda for a neglected area of enterprise education and business support.

Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2020
Publication Date Sep 1, 2020
Pages 880 - 880
Series Title European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Book Title ECIE 2020-Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
ISBN 978-1912764679
Publisher URL


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