The Impact of Entrepreneurship Education on the Relationships between Institutional and Individual Factors and Entrepreneurial Intention of University Graduates: Evidence from Zambia
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AuthorsMwiya, Bruce Mufwambi Kingsley
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AbstractUniversity education is no longer a passport to secure employment for graduates. This requires young graduates to consider entrepreneurship and self-employment as a viable career option. Understanding the determinants of entrepreneurial intention (EI), therefore, becomes important. In exploring the determinants of EI, prior studies investigate the effects of individual factors, contextual factors and entrepreneurship education (EE) in isolation from each other. Moreover, literature on the effect of EE on EI shows mixed conclusions. The current study, by considering EE as the kernel, firstly examines individual and institutional determinants of EI. Secondly, it explores whether EE affects the relationships between EI and its individual and institutional determinants. To avoid bias from utilising one particular methodology, this study purposely employed a concurrent triangulation strategy. This was intended for model testing and in-depth understanding of the research issues in the Zambian context. Primary data were collected from Zambia via qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey. For the qualitative study, 13 interviews were conducted and interviewees included final year undergraduate students, educators and practitioners in enterprise support organisations. For the quantitative study, 452 useful responses were received from final year undergraduate students. Research results suggest that, firstly, EI is primarily a function of perceived feasibility and desirability of entrepreneurship. Secondly, individual and institutional factors directly influence perceived feasibility and desirability of entrepreneurship. Thirdly, and more importantly, individual and institutional factors indirectly exert their impact on perceived feasibility and desirability via EE. The study contributes to knowledge in four major areas. Firstly, against the backdrop of mixed conclusions in prior research about the effect of EE on EI, this study finds that the effect of EE should be examined in conjunction with factors at individual and institutional levels. Specifically, it establishes that effectiveness of EE mediates the effects of individual and institutional factors on perceived feasibility and desirability of entrepreneurship i.e. the attitudinal antecedents of EI. This helps clarify the role of EE. Secondly, unlike prior studies and models that examine the influence of EE, individual factors and contextual factors in isolation from each other, this study develops and validates a multi-level integrated model to explore how these factors jointly shape EI. Specifically, the model shows that factors at individual and institutional levels influence EI not only through their effects on perceived feasibility and desirability but also through their impact on the effectiveness of EE. Thirdly, the study provides evidence from Zambia, an under-researched developing country, that EI is primarily a function of perceived feasibility and desirability of entrepreneurship. This supports prior research conclusions from developed countries. Lastly, the study further develops and validates constructs for EE, providing a basis for evaluating EE. In particular, it demonstrates that effectiveness of EE in relation to EI can be evaluated from three angles: perceived learning from the module/programme, experiential learning and access to resources. On the whole, the findings derived suggest that, in order to promote graduate entrepreneurship, multifaceted and concerted efforts will be required from policy makers (to help shape institutions), practitioners (to devise and implement collaborative support mechanisms), educators (to design and deliver appropriate EE content and pedagogy) and scholars (to evaluate and develop knowledge). Acknowledgements I am entirely responsible for the work presented in this thesis. However, at the same time I acknowledge that work of this magnitude and depth can never be solely the effort of one individual. There are many stakeholders to thank. I am greatly indebted to the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission (UK) for offering the Commonwealth Academic Staff Scholarship, the Coppebelt University for granting the study leave, and the University of Wolverhampton Business School’s Management Research Centre for facilitating the research project. I am also indebted to my supervisors, Dr Yong Wang (Director of Studies), Dr Ian Mckeown and Dr Graham Tate for guiding me through this study. Without Dr Yong Wang’s dedicated direction, mentoring and support, this project would not have been finished properly. Special thanks go to the eight universities in Zambia which authorised and facilitated access to the final year students for the survey. Special gratitude also goes to the lecturers, students and enterprise support practitioners in Zambia who participated in the interviews. I am also grateful to all the staff at the University of Wolverhampton for their support. Particularly, I wish to thank Prof Silke Machold, Prof Mike Haynes, Prof Les Worrall, Dr Paschal Anosike, Dr Stuart Farquhar and Steven Greenfield for their encouragement and support. I thank Andy (Dr Jones), David and Aurelian (Dr Mbzibain) for all the insightful discussions in ML119 and ML120. Lastly, words are not adequate for appreciating my wife and best friend Bernadette and our children Bruce, Grace and Benita for their encouragement and sacrifice during this research project. I end this section with gratitude to God for life and blessing.
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
SponsorsCommonwealth Scholarships Commission, funded by the United Kingdom Government