Proof positive that entrepreneurial training works
Bruce Martin of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School: "Entrepreneurship is now seen as an engine for growth." photograph: jason clarke
INNOVATION PROFILE UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business SchoolAre entrepreneurs born or made? The latter, says a study on the impact of business education
The argument on entrepreneurial education has been raging for many years. One camp holds that entrepreneurs are born and not made, so that training and education are of little value to them.
The other believes that education can make for more and more successful entrepreneurs.
Research carried out by Dr Bruce Martin of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School might just settle the argument in favour of the educators.
Martin, who is a lecturer in entrepreneurship on UCD Smurfit School’s MSc and MBA programmes, recently arrived in Ireland from McMaster University in Canada where he completed his PhD looking at entrepreneurship in disadvantaged groups with a particular focus on people with disabilities. His research began by looking at entrepreneurship education generally.
“Entrepreneurship education is a relatively new thing and there had been little research done on its effectiveness,” he says.
“Thirty years ago, it was hard to find any kind of entrepreneurship educational programme. Now you are almost tripping over them wherever you go. This is because entrepreneurship is now seen as an engine for growth and it is part of public policy to encourage it.”
He set out to measure the effectiveness of entrepreneurship programmes across the world and did so through what is known as a meta-analysis of previous studies.
“We found that 79 studies had been done on entrepreneurship training over the past two decades and meta-analysis is a statistical method used to combine many studies,” Martin explains.
“Forty-two of the studies were considered valid assessments and our analysis of them showed there was a significant and strong relationship between entrepreneurial education and the formation of human capital assets such as the skills and behaviours required to be successful entrepreneurs.
“There was also a strong relationship shown with outcomes in terms of successful start-ups. This was the first empirical large sample which provided evidence that entrepreneurial education does have a strong impact.”
People with disabilities
He then took the research a step further and looked at how entrepreneurship education might be used to assist people with disabilities.
He points out that World Health Organisation statistics indicate that 15.6 per cent of the world’s population have a designated disability of some kind and the majority of these people are significantly disadvantaged both socially and economically.
“It we look at the western situation, when we stopped institutionalising people with disabilities several decades ago, we did not embrace them either socially or in the workplace,” says Martin.
“We have got better in recent decades but there are still many issues and the WHO data on disadvantage proves this.”