Objectives: The aim of this paper is to analyze (1) the determinants of students' entrepreneurial intentions; and (2) to what extent following an entrepreneurship education program (EEP) may change these intentions.

Theoretical Background/Previous Practice: Entrepreneurial activity - exploiting new business opportunities - strongly differs between countries. However, the OECD stresses the importance of entrepreneurship for economic growth, productivity, innovation and employment. Furthermore, policy makers have recently proposed entrepreneurship as a key element in solving economic downturn. Figures on Belgium illustrate the country's low rate of entrepreneurial activity, despite the presence of a highly educated workforce and being a place of attraction for foreign businesses. These observations imply that there is a strong need to stimulate entrepreneurship in Belgium on a larger scale. Among many solutions, higher education is key to stimulating entrepreneurship. Through specific entrepreneurship training and teaching programs, higher education may stimulate innovation and foster high-technology start-ups. In the long run, it may also change people's mindset and culture regarding entrepreneurship.

Approach/Methods: The aim of this paper is to analyze (1) the determinants of students' entrepreneurial intentions; and (2) to what extent following a program on entrepreneurship may change these intentions. Hypotheses are derived from Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour. Along the lines of this theory, we test whether a person's entrepreneurial intentions are determined by his attitude towards entrepreneurship, his perceived subjective norms (indicating a person's perceived social pressures to perform entrepreneurship), and his perceived behavioural control (indicating the perceived ease or difficulty of performing behaviour towards entrepreneurship). We also test whether an EEP adds to a student's entrepreneurial intentions. Observations are gathered through surveys carried out among students from business and technology majors at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Results/Insights: The results show that the more favourable a person's attitude towards entrepreneurship is, the higher his entrepreneurial intentions will be. In addition, following a technology entrepreneurship course adds to a student's entrepreneurial intentions by influencing the entrepreneurial attitudes.

Implications: The results of this research allow for a better design of EEPs by uncovering a clear relationship between the EEP and its impact on the student's entrepreneurial intentions and its determinants. For instance, after an introductory course, other courses should be designed so as to influence the subject's perceived subjective norms and perceived behavioural control. Furthermore, these results suggest the need for further exploring a country's elements of culture in order to understand and stimulate the forces behind entrepreneurship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-263
Number of pages22
JournalIEF Conference Proceedings
Volume11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2012
Event11th IEF Conference - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Duration: 3 Sep 20126 Sep 2012

    Research areas

  • entrepreneurship education, higher education, theory of planned behaviour

ID: 2209201