Competencies in Entrepreneurship: Teaching Entrepreneurship in Higher Education from a New Angle

Competencies in Entrepreneurship: Teaching Entrepreneurship in Higher Education from a New Angle

Thomas Baaken (Münster University of Applied Sciences, Germany), Bert Kiel (Münster University of Applied Sciences, Germany), Sue Rossano-Rivero (VU Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Marieke Cornelia Baaken (TecMinho, Portugal) and Gideon Maas (Coventry University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0097-1.ch009
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Entrepreneurial thinking and acting as well as innovation driving managers is a need for society. Companies need to speed up their efforts when facing competition, society need entrepreneurs and innovation driving members. Successful entrepreneurial acting requires particular competencies. Past research has mainly focused on evolving theories to enable an organization to manage innovation successfully by managers. However, it is not the organization but the people, united by a proactive and market-driven culture, that are innovative and which combine to populate and to equip the organization with the required competencies. Hence, the individual competencies in times of change and innovation need to be researched. This paper proposes a research methodology to close this research gap and to analyze the individual competencies that should be fostered by higher education programmes in order to provide graduates with the desired competencies for entrepreneurship and driving innovation.
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1. Introduction

The duty of universities to meet students’ expectations must be accomplished by preparing them for the economy in which they will operate (Galloway et al., 2005). Under Audretsch´s (2009) view, today’s economy can be characterised as an entrepreneurial one where, entrepreneurship is the driving force underlying economic growth and performance; therefore an institutional context which is conducive to entrepreneurial activity, supporting students’ entrepreneurial thinking and acting, will facilitate this entrepreneurial driven economic growth.

In this respect it seems unconceivable to think about entrepreneurship education without taking into consideration the external environment. Entrepreneurs by nature seek to exploit external opportunities embedded in the environment, however, the global economy is increasingly dynamic and dominated by complexity and uncertainty; it is as Peter Drucker (1969) stated: “The age of discontinuity”.

As Schumpeter (1934) noted the essence of entrepreneurship is capitalizing on environmental change. Thus, the traditional entrepreneur shall now act as an innovator who must proactively set up new smart businesses; ideally from the beginning, till the end of any business life cycle. In addition to this, he must persistently continue with this attitude to harness innovation in his existing enterprise. In an uncertain and changing environment, finding the capital and taking the risk self-confidently are essential but not sufficient.

In this respect, the role of universities is perceived as going beyond preparing students to meet the demands of the labour market (Pavlin, 2014). Following Teichler (2013, p. 422) graduates additionally need to be trained to deal with the uncertainties created by the threat (and sometimes the actuality) of changing environmental conditions, such as economic, social and/or political crises. Hence, HEI educational functions should relate to the students’ abilities to ‘be sceptical and critical, able to cope with indeterminate work tasks and able to contribute to innovation […]’. This is particularly relevant in an economy where organisations face ill-defined problems for which a myriad of possible solutions exists. Apart from fundamental ‘cognitive skills’ (e.g. attention, reasoning, processing) individuals must apply a different set of skills to foster innovation and capitalize on environmental change. These competences relate to agility, resilience and leadership for collaboration, which should belong to the repertoire of the individual competencies of employees and managers.

A core contribution of the present article hereby lies on relating the competencies for entrepreneurship at the individual level, with the environmental level, particularly with environmental change. Hence, it is argued in the present article that for organisations to face their fast changing environment they need to possess a certain set of competencies (agility, resilience and leadership for collaboration) that need to be enacted by the individuals working within the organisations, and that individual competencies must be developed through entrepreneurship education. The development of these competences forms the basis of a new paradigm in Higher Education with respect to entrepreneurship education. (Le Deist, 2009)

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