Family business entrepreneurs influence on entrepreneurship

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Family business entrepreneurs influence on entrepreneurship ...


    Paper prepared for FBE 2008, Best Practices on Family Business and

    Entrepreneurship Higher Education

    August 2122, 2008, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

    Family business entrepreneurs’ influence on entrepreneurship

    education and training a discussion paper

    Helena Allahwerdi, Ph.D.

    Hely Westerholm, Ph.D. (Econ.), MBA

    Helsinki Business College

    P.O. Box 133, Hattulantie 2, FI-00511 Helsinki, Finland

    Tel. 358 207 511 700, Fax +358 207 511 711,



    Entrepreneur education and training are the key concepts for the success and welfare of the European

    societies. In this, the most important actors are the local and national family business entrepreneurs and

    their enterprises. The challenge for them is to become global and to build international business and

    social networks with their European counterparts as well as to learn to be motivated in cooperation with

    educational establishments. This study focuses on the online learning program of Global

    Entrepreneurship developed with the support of family business entrepreneurs as mentors. The students

    act as business assistants to the entrepreneurs. The study offers entrepreneurs an exciting and

    motivating platform for this in five European countries: Austria, Finland, Hungary, Italy and Lithuania,

    as well as in Turkey. At the same time, the educational institutions support the entrepreneurs in putting

    their innovative visions of international cooperation into practice. The outcomes of the cooperation

    include SME business surveys, marketing research and a proposal for an online department store. The

    evaluation emphasizes the occupational competences and attitudes of the entrepreneurs, which are

    results based on the previous study by Westerholm (2007) in the same countries except for Italy, which is

    a new partner country. The empirical case of INNOVET- Transfer on Innovation - is a real-life

    application of entrepreneur education and training.

    Key words: entrepreneur education and training, family business entrepreneur, international

    cooperation and networking, educational innovation transfer


The EU has adopted a stand strongly in favour of entrepreneurship, of which a prime

    example can be found in the “Framework for key competences in a knowledge-based

    society 2004: Entrepreneurship. (European Commission 2004). According to this framework, entrepreneurship supports all citizens in everyday life at home and in society

    and helps employees gain awareness of the wider context of their work and capitalize on

    opportunities that arise. It also provides the foundation for special skills and knowledge

    that entrepreneurs need when starting a social or commercial enterprise.


    The importance of the global division of labour is growing and mobility between

    societies is increasing. Networking in the information economy in particular could provide a solution to the appropriate division of labour, adoption of innovations and specialization, if multicultural backgrounds could be capitalized upon. In practice, entrepreneurship education and training can succeed if the entrepreneur education curriculum corresponds to the needs of local entrepreneurs and the learning environment extends from the classroom to any part of the world. (Carrier, 2006; Westerholm, 2007).

    According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2007, there is lack of meaningful

    entrepreneurship education everywhere. The emphasis in entrepreneurship education is on the research and development of processes of learning. The traditional, teacher-oriented practices in entrepreneurship education seem to offer very few opportunities to be creative and innovative (Schumpeter, 1934; Landström, 1998; Kyrö, 2008). Developing creativity and innovation in the context of entrepreneurship education requires new pedagogical methods and theoretical bases (Kyrö, 2008) and a bridge to global business realities and active entrepreneurs. This bridge is built by inviting the entrepreneurs to play an active role in planning and implementing entrepreneurship education (Gibb 2002). It is important to pay attention to the skills needed in real multicultural business environments.

    In addition, we are convinced that the traditional teacher’s role is going to change

    into the role of active communication and cooperation with the world of work. The strong signals come from the enterprises. This will reflect on the study programs of students more than ever. On-the-job learning and work training are going to have a central position in their studies. Practical assignments strengthen their abilities, skills and attitudes.

    In future, the question is whether the difference between successful performance in

    school and successful performance in business life can be discerned in time. Kupferberg (2003) emphasises that creativity is more meaningful than competences. He believes that education and training are going to meet new challenges which are more than plain competences. Insight is an integral element of competence, bringing into play such characteristics as willpower, intuitive thinking, spirit and communication skills that impact on ability to manage practical problem-solving situations. The ability to learn from experience is valued and taken as part of the broader learning process. (Munch & Jakobsen 2005). The focus in valuating learning results in future will be on individuality and


    fragmentation, the vision being an unlimited range of patchwork profiles that discard the

    holistic competence concept. The primary concern in the world of work will be on broad-

    based education linked to a personality that exhibits strength, individual initiative,

    independence and the ability to reach analytically justified decisions. (Drexel 2003).


The INNOVET study (see Fig. 1) provides family business entrepreneurs with a practical

    platform to put their competence and experience to use as mentors. The students in the

    partner institutes function as business assistants conducting business surveys and

    marketing research and preparing proposals for international cooperation based on the

    requests and wishes of participating family business entrepreneurs in Austria, Finland,

    Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Turkey. The partner countries and educational

    establishments are the same as in Westerholm’s study (2007), with the addition of new

    partner Italy.

    - competence - motivation to be Research - attitudes mentors

    - innovation - networking - learning on line - innovations

     Dialogue between theory and practice

     INNOVET study online

     Global Entrepreneurship

     Learning Program online

Figure 1. INNOVET research positioning by adopting Westerholm?s model (2007, 17).

The INNOVET study promotes entrepreneurship education and training. It develops

    different learning program versions according to the needs and educational traditions of

    the partners. Each partner has its own networks. In the national networks there are


    representatives of family business entrepreneurs, educational and business organisations,

    staff members and students as business assistants. The national networks communicate

    actively with those of other partners.

    The focus of our interest are the entrepreneurs, who to date have had a minor role in

    entrepreneur education. However, they are the bridge to the reality of global business

    environments, offering challenges to new innovations and visions. There is a constant

    dialogue between the various forms of entrepreneurship education and training and the

    family entrepreneurs.

    We emphasize at first the entrepreneurial approach and then the student-oriented

    approach in planning the ongoing process of the project. The teachers’ role as instructor is

    to support and facilitate cognitive paths, to propose pedagogical methods and to develop

    evaluation criteria with the help of the entrepreneurs and students. The entrepreneurs are

    the experts of real-life business cultures.

    The Plan of the INNOVET Study on

    Entrepreneurship Education and Training

    Objectives of the study

     Target groups: entrepreneurs, students and instructors E VThe pilots of Global Entrepreneurship course in AAustria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and LTurkey 2008 - 2009

    U AOutcomes of the pilot courses T I7 language Surveys, Proposals of O version of marketing research international N ongoing and business online shops and e-magazines networks department stores

     On-the-job training abroad

Figure 2. The plan of INNOVET study.

The first real challenge was to find the enterprises and entrepreneurs who would like to

    participate as mentors. The channels for communication in each partner country were

    several newspaper articles, chambers of commerce and seminars where the entrepreneurs


    were invited. The aim was to locate at least two enterprises and entrepreneurs from each

    partner country. The entrepreneurs gave to the students several assignments, which

    consisted of requests of proposals for cooperation and new business ideas. The

    entrepreneurs had little or no familiarity with the cultures and business environments in

    the partner countries. They needed to be informed and the students of Global

    Entrepreneurship did this survey and e-mailed the results to entrepreneurs.

    Most of the Global Entrepreneurship courses online started during fall 2008. The course consists of six parts:

    ? what does entrepreneurship really mean?

    ? entrepreneurship and the EU

    ? entrepreneurship in your own country

    ? entrepreneurship in partner countries and the assignments of mentor entrepreneurs

    ? preparing the reports to entrepreneurs and proposals for international cooperation

    ? new business ideas and preparation for the work training abroad

The work training abroad of Educating European Citizens consists of three parts

    1. Before the training abroad in the partner country

    ? Country (place of training) package is given to the trainee to study

    ? Entrepreneur’s (place of training) assignments are given to the trainee who makes a

    survey in his/her home country about entrepreneurship

    ? Global Entrepreneurship course

    2. During the training

    ? Detailed program prepared by the enterprise receiving the trainee

    ? Guidelines and objectives for the training by the mentor enterprise

    3. After the training abroad

    ? Evaluation based on the European Reference Framework (EQF) Key Competences

    for Life Long Learning (LLL)


    ? Certificate granted by the mentor enterprise and the educational institute

    responsible for the MOBILITY administration

    ? Agreement about ECVET credits between the educational institutes sending and

    receiving the trainee


    The study consists of the following objectives:

    ? to promote entrepreneurship education and training

    ? to develop new practices in entrepreneurship education and training

    ? to discover how entrepreneur education and training functions in an open online

    learning environment in six different educational and business cultures

    ? to train the students in the competences and attitudes transferred to them by family

    business entrepreneurs as mentors

    ? to evaluate how the family business entrepreneurs, staff and students benefit from

    the process and outcomes of the INNOVET program

    The actors in our project are the entrepreneurs, students and instructors. The project offers

    an international platform for dialogue and interaction. All the members in each group are

    equally responsible for planning, conducting and evaluating the processes taking place

    during the project. Each group faces operational opportunities but also obstacles to

    reaching the goals.

    All group members with their organizations are in a position to create and implement new ideas and ways of doing things. In the beginning there is confusion due to

    the needs of active international cooperation and reciprocal communication between the

    partners. The differences and similarities in educational and business cultures are not

    known or understood, and it takes time to build new practices for action building trust.

    Individual and collective cognitive and affective skills are needed in the operational

    activities. In their personal learning situations, the members of each group specialize in the

    roles of both supply, i.e. resources to solve problems and provide solutions, and of

    demand, i.e. formulating objectives and goals.


    We emphasize at first the entrepreneurial approach and then the student-oriented

    approach in planning the ongoing process of the project. The teachers’ role as instructor is to support and facilitate cognitive paths, to propose pedagogical methods and to develop

    evaluation criteria with the help of the entrepreneurs and students.


    This study is a qualitative study following the process of the INNOVET project (20072009), which through mutual exchange and communication and innovative transfer of

    learning seeks to develop a target model for entrepreneurship education and training that

    strengthens the competences and attitudes needed by the entrepreneur in international

    business networks.

4.1 Entrepreneurship education and training

According to Snow, Corno and Jackson (1996, 247), a personality consists of an affective

    and conative function and intelligence as a cognitive and conative function. This

    theoretical, psychological model presents the main ideas of intelligence and personality

    research. A transfer of the psychological model to entrepreneurship education is still quite

    a way off. With this model as their basis, Ruohotie and Koiranen (2000) have analyzed

    entrepreneurship education from the perspectives of both personality and intelligence.

    They believe key processes are related to conative construction, i.e. motivation and will,

    while Bloom (1956) in his educational taxonomy favours attitudes. Affectiveness thus emphasizes the key processes. The nature of entrepreneurship education is a world of the

    cognitive, affective and conative factors of intrapreneurship, and owner-entrepreneurship

    according to Kansikas (2006, 418) reflects a need for the goal of a learning entrepreneurship. This would reflect the need for individual flexibility in learning the skills required of

    potential entrepreneurs in a given time, environment and life situation. A learning

    entrepreneurship is based on a motivation for active and independent learning. The

    learning entrepreneurship is an attitude that may manifest as pedagogical solutions. The


    same can also be achieved through a Bloom-based approach, in which the attitudes of the

    entrepreneur are structured directly at the analysis stage.

    Remes (2003, 164) and Westerholm (2007, 130) state that there is too little debate within

    the arena of research both nationally and internationally about learning in entrepreneurship

    education. It would seem that a unanimous view of entrepreneurship education has been adopted in research, yet that view is to too large an extent positioned in the field of adult

    education and leaves much to be desired in terms of entrepreneurship education as a part

    of civic education. The paradigm of teaching business plans perseveres within the

    business studies unit in vocational education. Although periods of on-the-job learning

    bring the message from the business community that education in attitudes and

    interaction skills is of at least equal importance, this message is only slowly integrated into

    the curriculum. Even slower is its integration into education and learning.

    Remes (2003, 164) has described the forms of entrepreneurship as analogues of entrepreneurship training as follows: 1) the manifestation of voluntary entrepreneurship

    in pedagogic activities should be compared to the enterprising approach of the individual,

    2) the manifestation of external entrepreneurship to the teaching of entrepreneurship

    knowledge and the enterprising use of materials, and 3) internal entrepreneurship to the

    enterprising approach of society. The modelling put forward by Remes could be taken a

    step further by classifying entrepreneurial skills as cognitive, affective and psychomotor

    skills, as this serves practical curriculum planning in vocational entrepreneurship training, yet

    does not abandon the entrepreneurial type classifications created by Gibb (2005, 4748).

    The importance of practical learning alongside theoretical education has long been known.

    Voluntary entrepreneurship and its many aspects are best described by affective core skills

    (see Kyrö 1998 and 2005; Remes 2005). In vocational education, these core skills are best

    strengthened as a learning process in open learning environments, e.g. in practice

    enterprises and during periods of on-the-job learning, and they can be evaluated through

    demonstrations, which by definition concern the practical application of skills. The

    affective element of personality falls outside evaluation in demonstrations under current

    entrepreneurship training, although it should be evaluated alongside cognitive work

    processes. (Westerholm 2007).


    4.2 Skills of small and family business entrepreneurs

Skill, qualification, ability, capacity, effectiveness and proficiency are integral elements of

    the concept of competence, which is an amalgam of knowledge, behaviour, attitudes and

    values and refers to mastery of a certain skill, such as learning or reaching goals.

    Competence is also linked to creativity, innovativeness, flexibility, endurance and

    accuracy and precision. The usage of the concepts competence and qualification has been

    wavering and no consensus has been reached regarding the semantic content of the two (Ruohotie & Honka 2003; Antwell 1997; Drexel 2003; Juceviciene & Lepaite 2005).

    Competence may thus be taken to mean either a characteristic of the individual or the

    requirements of given tasks. The competence needs of business in a slightly wider context

    have been examined by Munch and Jakobsen (2005), who have stated that competence

    has become an important area of emphasis in education and industrial policy in recent

    years. Evaluation of the effectiveness of education has focused on qualification,

    understanding or ability. The concept of qualification has been nearly impossible to

    differentiate from that of competence in research on evaluation, as many factors in the

    everyday language of evaluation mix up the two. The meaning of good school performance

    and of good business performance has been difficult to define.

    In entrepreneurship training, evaluation has even involved ethical issues.

    Entrepreneurship training becomes ethically questionable if the participants’ current poor

    economic status is their only impetus for participation (Westerholm 2007, 133).


5.1 Data collection

The data collection method involves choices on how to collect data and what data to

    collect. The questions of what, where and how are interactive. The operative model

    emphasizes the role of family business entrepreneurs. The evaluation takes place during

    four phases.


    National entrepreneur meetings and forums producing visions for cooperation

    Entrepreneurs give students assignments

    Students as business assistants, experiences and business idea proposals published in e-magazines

Figure 3. The process of data collection.

Data collection in partner countries fits the following pattern, based on a study by

    Voorhees (2001):


    1. Phase: brainstorming session in national entrepreneur forums produces the

    fundamental visions of export and import ideas reflecting the traits and

    characteristics of participating entrepreneurs.

Development of the learning process

    2. Phase: personal interviews with the entrepreneurs selected as mentors to the students

    in six countries, and their reflections on their hopes for the surveys and the

    marketing of their product in other partner countries.

Acquired competence and attitudes as integrative learning experiences

    3. Phase: mentor competences needed and transferred when students are doing their

    assignments in the Global Entrepreneurship Program online and requesting help

    from their entrepreneur mentors abroad and at home. The experiences of

    entrepreneurs and students are published in national and international e-magazines.

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