Entrepreneurship Education and its Influence on Higher Education Students' Entrepreneurial Intentions and Motivation in Portugal.

AutorMonico, Lisete


Entrepreneurship education has become essential to respond to an increasingly competitive local and global market. Thus, assuming that each individual can be proactive and develop entrepreneurial behaviors as long as the environment provides favorable stimuli, entrepreneurship education must be seen as a viable path. The teaching-learning process will provide young people with the knowledge and skills to facilitate their integration into the job market.

Given the importance of entrepreneurship education, this study explores higher education students' perceptions of entrepreneurship education in Portugal, the influence of entrepreneurship education on students' entrepreneurial intentions and motivation, as well as the association between their entrepreneurial intention and entrepreneurial motivation.


A nation's prosperity and dynamism depend largely upon the competitive capacity of its organizations and this, in turn, relies on the capabilities of their entrepreneurs and managers (Cuervo, Ribeiro, & Roig, 2007). The entrepreneurial function involves the discovery, assessment, and exploitation of new opportunities, that is, the creation of new organizations or organizational strategies and the exploration of new markets with innovative products and inputs for new economic activities (Reynolds, 2005; Shane; Venkataraman, 2000).

Universities have an increasingly important role because of their impact on knowledge and on the entrepreneurial economy (Audrescht, 2009). The main activities of universities are knowledge transfer (teaching) and knowledge creation (research). However, universities have had to adapt to the environmental conditions and to assert their role within the economy, generating new ideas and looking toward future trends (Ratten, 2017), which lead to the creation of entrepreneurial universities (Guerrero, Urbano, Fayolle, Klofsten, & Mian, 2016).

Entrepreneurship is a key driving force of a nation's economic development (Liu, Lin, Zhao, & Zhao, 2019). The literature highlights the role of education in the diffusion of entrepreneurship to build up a more entrepreneurial society (Baptista, Carvalho, Monico, & Parreira, 2019). Entrepreneurship education has proven to play an important role in the prosperity of any university, economy, or region (Baptista et al., 2019; Volkmann, 2004). Entrepreneurship education in HEIs intends to develop students' entrepreneurial competencies, motivations, and intentions (Wang, Yueh, & Wen, 2019). Students who receive an entrepreneurship education are more likely to have higher entrepreneurial intention than those who did not receive it (Gerba, 2012; Volkmann, 2004; Zarate-Hoyos & Larios-Meono, 2015). Thus, universities, more than just generating knowledge and human resources, increasingly occupy an entrepreneurial role in the business sector by creating innovative small businesses and becoming a stakeholder in socioeconomic development (Ivanova & Leydesdorff, 2014), which confirms their key role in entrepreneurship.

To Minola, Domina, and Meoli (2016), entrepreneurial universities emerged as a new archetype of an education institution that seeks to create and transfer knowledge, contributing to the development of local economies and empowering individuals. Pinheiro and Stensaker (2013) state that the entrepreneurial university/academia, being an organizational archetype, is characterized by the adoption of new structural arrangements that aim at greater internal collaboration (coupling) and foster external partnerships (bridging).

The entrepreneurial university is a fundamental concept, not only for the teaching and research part of it, but also for the mission of getting involved in socio-economic development. The great advantage of universities is their ability to produce students with innovative ideas, talents, and skills. Students not only represent the new generations of professionals but also can become entrepreneurs, contributing to job creation and economic growth (Ranga & Etzkowitz, 2013).

Wang, Yueh, and Wen (2019) stress the importance of entrepreneurship education in HEIs to develop students' entrepreneurial intention and competencies. Empirical studies have shown a significant association between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial intentions (Hattab, 2014; Hussain & Norashidah, 2015; Ibrahim, Bakar, Asimiran, Mohamed, & Zakaria, 2015). Entrepreneurial intention is a desire to do productive activities effectively, directing individuals to use relevant concepts of new business (Mahendra, Djatmika, & Hermawan, 2017). Through the students' involvement in experiential learning (Robinson, Neergaard, Tanggaard, & Krueger, 2016), the meaning of action, reflections, and experience are developed (Hagg & Kurczewska, 2016). Basardien, Friedrich, and Twum-Darko (2016) argued that entrepreneurship education improves students' achievement orientation.

Liu, Lin, Zhao and Zhao (2019) conducted a study in a sample of 327 college students in China. They intended to analyze the effects of college students' entrepreneurship education and self-efficacy on their entrepreneurial intention. The results showed that entrepreneurship education had a positive effect on their entrepreneurial intention. Athayde (2009) also found a positive influence of education programs on the students' entrepreneurial potential, demonstrating the need to evaluate the relationship between these constructs.

Innovative HEIs need entrepreneurship education to promote entrepreneurial competencies and entrepreneurial intention in their students. According to the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 2005), an individual behavioral intention is influenced by his or her attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control toward performing the behavior, so entrepreneurial intention can be trained and developed through entrepreneurship education. Although Ogbari, et al., (2018) believe that the number of entrepreneurship education programs is increasing, their impact is under-researched and studies have shown an unclear picture of the impact of entrepreneurship education. With the creation of the HEInnovate model, a self-assessment tool for HEIs, it is now possible to explore the entrepreneurial and innovative potential of HEIs. The HEInnovate was created in 2015 by the European Commission, inspired in UBForum 2011. This interesting model highlights the key role of universities in teaching entrepreneurship, showing the incredible impact of entrepreneurship education and training on students (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor [GEM], 2004; 2016; 2017). The European Commission challenges HEIs to answer the following question: How innovative is your HEI? HEInnovate has the simple purpose of helping HEIs identify their current situation and potential areas for action in seven broad areas, under which are the statements for self-assessment. In this study, we decided to use these seven dimensions, which are a group of aggregate statements for each self-assessment dimension. According to HEInnovate (www.heinnovate.eu retrieved on September 8, 2020), these seven dimensions are essential for a HEI to be considered an innovative institution:

  1. Leadership and governance. These are crucial characteristics to develop an entrepreneurial and innovative culture in HEIs. To consolidate the entrepreneurial agenda of HEIs, some factors need to be considered. Entrepreneurship must be a major part of the HEI's strategy, and the HEI should be a driving force for entrepreneurship and innovation in regional, social, and community development.

  2. Organizational capacity: Funding, people, and incentives. The organizational capacity of a HEI drives its ability to deliver its strategy effectively. For this purpose, HEIs should have the capacity and culture to build new relationships and synergies across the institution, and their entrepreneurial objectives should be supported by a wide range of sustainable funding and investment sources.

  3. Entrepreneurial teaching and learning. This dimension involves developing innovative teaching methods and stimulating entrepreneurial mindsets. It is not only learning about entrepreneurship and innovation but also getting exposed to entrepreneurial experiences and acquiring skills and competencies to develop entrepreneurial mindsets.

  4. Preparing and supporting entrepreneurs. An innovative HEI should help students, graduates, and staff to start a business as a career option and to reflect on their objectives, aspirations, and intentions. The HEI should also contribute to finding team members for the new businesses and getting access to financing and effective networks.

  5. Knowledge exchange and collaboration. This dimension is really important for organizational innovation, advancement of teaching and research, and local development. Among other things, HEIs should be committed to collaboration and knowledge exchange with the industry, the public sector, and society, as well as have strong links with incubators, science parks, and other external initiatives.

  6. The Internationalized institution. The design and delivery of education, research, and knowledge exchange should have an international or global dimension and work as a vehicle for change and improvement. Internationalization introduces alternative ways of thinking, challenges traditional teaching methods, and opens our governance and management to external stakeholders.

  7. Measuring impact. Finally, the HEI should be capable of measuring and understanding the impact of changes they bring about in their institution. Since impact measurement in HEI remains underdeveloped, this section wants to identify the areas where an institution might measure the impact of its activity. (HEInnovate, 2017)

Since the organizational, economic scenario is a never-ending story, universities could be the source of innovative ideas and projects. To do so, it will be...

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