Developing Student Entrepreneurial Identity – The Student-Process-Educator Nexus in Entrepreneurship Education

Publikation: Bog/antologi/rapport/Ph.d. afhandlingPh.d. afhandlingForskningpeer review


Executive Summary
Context and purpose
Entrepreneurship education is considered an important aspect of education as it is believed to help create economic growth via the creation of new businesses as well as creating better entrepreneurs hence more successful new businesses. Furthermore, entrepreneurship education is believed to create
better intrapreneurs as well. In the context of this thesis, entrepreneurship education is a system that contains five interrelated elements: the student, the educator, the institution, the community, and the educational processes. Thus, a series of dialogic relationships between the five elements that are dependent on each other. The purpose of this thesis is, therefore, to study how entrepreneurship educators influence students in their ”becoming” – their entrepreneurial identity development with a specific focus on the relationship between the entrepreneurship educator, the entrepreneurial processes and each student in entrepreneurship education.

Previous research
Entrepreneurship education research is rather diverse. To date, the dominant focus concerning entrepreneurial pedagogy and teaching approaches has been on the outcome and less on “how” to teach entrepreneurship and even lesser on how both students and educators perceive themselves in this perspective. An extensive literature review revealed research gaps related to understanding the
entrepreneurship educator and the student and their interconnectivity. Along with assumptions about the entrepreneurial learning space, a model that depicts the interrelated relationship between student, entrepreneurship educator and entrepreneurial processes has been developed. This to help answering the overarching research question: “How does the entrepreneurship educator contribute to the entrepreneurial development of the student?”. To answer this, four supporting research questions are proposed. First, “How do the entrepreneurship educators perceive their role as educators in the educational process?” Second, “How can educational entrepreneurial processes
contribute to the identity development of the student?” Third, “How can student self-assessment assist student reflection on their entrepreneurial identity?” and finally, “How can student reflection lead to self-insight into their own entrepreneurial development?”. Each of the four supporting research questions are answered through four related papers.

Methods and empirical setting
All four papers are based on a qualitative research design. The first paper uses interviews to gain insight into the role of the entrepreneurship educator. The educator’s role is described in the contextual setting of the five interrelated elements mentioned above. The second paper is a practical example of
how to teach entrepreneurship described by an educator. The related study is based on both talks with students and more importantly individual student video clips in which students views themselves in either entre- or intrapreneurial perspective. The same methodology, participatory storytelling, is used
in papers three and four. Both papers are based on the same data set consisting of video clips from Danish and Finnish bachelor students however with different research perspectives. Paper three focuses on how individual student self-assessment is purposeful as a tool to make students reflect on their entrepreneurial development while paper four focuses on how video clips as a form of data and their analysis enhance individual student reflection, thus learning and a deeper insight into own personal entrepreneurial development.

The first paper reveals that the entrepreneurship educators perceive themselves primarily as facilitators of the development of an entrepreneurial identity but at the same time understand the need to take on different roles to empower each student to develop the said identity. Thus, the entrepreneurship educator plays a vital role in the student’s identity development. The second paper concludes that transformative learning approaches link the role of the entrepreneurship educator with individual student development. Moreover, it was found that the existence of a reflective element in the educational process enhanced students learning and entrepreneurial identity development. The third paper links the entrepreneurial educational processes with student identity development. It
concludes that using video clips as a self-assessment method creates a space for each student to selfassess own skills and learning which in turn leads to a greater recognition of their own entrepreneurial identity. The fourth paper demonstrates, that student reflections trigger deep insights about learning
and furthermore, how the students understand their own identity and identity creation. Thus, this study has shown how by a shift in own role perception, hence implementing this in the classroom, the entrepreneurship educator develops student’s entrepreneurial identity. The answer to the overall
research question is therefore: the entrepreneurship educator plays a critical role in creating entrepreneurial learning space which, depending on how this learning space is created, leads to varying levels of student engagement. Students who in turn are active participants in their own learning and through that develop his or her identity. Thus, the entrepreneurship educator who wishes to develop students’ entrepreneurial identity should focus on how the entrepreneurial learning space is created.

Contribution to Theory
In an acknowledged area of limited knowledge; that of the ”how” of entrepreneurship education, this thesis contributes to two specific gaps in knowledge: First, the thesis opens the door towards
understanding the role of the educator and how the entrepreneurship educator perceives their own role in the entrepreneurial educational process. Second, the thesis contributes to understanding how students through entrepreneurial processes and assessment methods can develop their entrepreneurial identities. Third, the thesis contributes with new insights into understanding how
identity theory can be applied in EE. Overall, the thesis contributes to understanding the dialogic relationship between the entrepreneurship educator, the entrepreneurial educational processes and each student and how this relationship can be a decisive factor in student entrepreneurial identity
development. Moreover, the thesis contains suggestions for further studies within the field of entrepreneurship education.

Practical Implications:
The thesis proposes a model for understanding the nexus between the entrepreneurship educator, the entrepreneurial educational processes and the student and how this model can be put into use when planning an entrepreneurial course. The knowledge gained can act an inspiration for the management at the educational institution, by first confirming the importance of offering entrepreneurial courses as they develop students and second, to understand how to support the work of the entrepreneurship
educator. Following calls for more research into the ”how” of entrepreneurship education, this study has also provided a platform for further research into the relationship between educator, the educational processes and student learning in entrepreneurship education.
StatusUdgivet - 21 feb. 2019


  • entreprenørskabsundervisning
  • Dialogical relationships
  • Educator
  • Entrepreneurial Identity formation
  • Entrepreneurial learning processes
  • Identitesdannelse
  • Student