The impact of entrepreneurship education research upon international entrepreneurship policy and practice

Submitting Institution

Birmingham City University

Unit of Assessment

Business and Management Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration

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Summary of the impact

This case study relates to the application of entrepreneurship education research to entrepreneurship development practice internationally. The socio-economic impact of the research has been tracked with impact maps and demonstrates impact upon entrepreneurship policy, advisory agency stances and university practice in the UK, continental Europe, other industrially-developed countries and developing countries. In addition to universal entrepreneurship education research and associated impact, the work has had specific impact upon specific facets of entrepreneurship including ethnic minority enterprise, creative industries entrepreneurship and e-entrepreneurship.

Underpinning research

In line with the Business School's research strategy outlined in RAE 2008, the enterprise development research undertaken in the Management and Enterprise Development Centre has explicitly sought to contribute significantly to "policy development and practice development ". A key element in enterprise policy is entrepreneurship development.

The European Commission acknowledges that the EU is not exploiting fully its entrepreneurial potential and that higher education has an important role in developing entrepreneurial individuals. Specifically, it highlights a need to embed entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation into Higher and Further Education provision in order to develop the entrepreneurial mind-set of students as future graduate entrepreneurs and business leaders. It calls for applied research and related dissemination to facilitate a better understanding of the impact that entrepreneurship education can have upon the development of entrepreneurial graduates, and shape strategy, policy and practice. EU thinking, strategies and policies have been echoed in many other countries throughout the world.

The Business School's long tradition of research in small business and enterprise has seen the leaders and directors of research move on to posts in other universities to establish enterprise and entrepreneurship research and national entrepreneurship development bodies. Applied research on entrepreneurship education has been undertaken by the Entrepreneurship Education Team under the guidance and leadership of Professor Harry Matlay for most of the review period. Key members of the Entrepreneurship Education Team who have contributed considerably to the underpinning research include Harry Matlay (Professor of Small Business and Enterprise development), Javed Hussain (Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance), Charlotte Carey (Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries) and Cindy Millman (Senior Lecturer in International Business). In addition to the core team, early career researchers such as Navjot Sandhu, Clinton Bantock and Mei Liu also contributed to relevant research and application. Team members focused upon distinct, but interrelated aspects of entrepreneurship education, which reflected individual as well as team research interests. Conceptually, team members' research converged upon university level entrepreneurship education in general, and the nature as well as the impact of related provision upon graduate entrepreneurship, in particular. The contextual focus of team research varied across economic activities, industries and geographical areas. Individually and cumulatively, emergent research findings impacted significantly upon the development of entrepreneurial graduates in the UK, continental Europe and other industrially developed and developing countries.

Building upon the team's pioneering research conducted between 1998 and 2003, the team has carried out focused research on entrepreneurship education and graduate entrepreneurship since 2004. Research impact is evident during the 2008 to 2013 period. The research investigated and advanced policies, stakeholder perspectives, principles and practice of entrepreneurship education in a number of countries including the UK, US and China.

As a body of knowledge, the research created new and innovative conceptual and contextual insights shaping policy and practice in graduate employability development and entrepreneurship.

References to the research

1. Matlay, H., 2011, `The Influence of Stakeholders on Developing Enterprising Graduates in UK HEIs', International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 17, 2, pp. 166 — 182


2. Hussain, J., Scott, J. and Matlay, H., 2010, `The impact of entrepreneurship education on succession in ethnic minority family firms', Education and Training, 52, 8/9, pp. 643 — 659


3. Carey, C. and Matlay, H., 2010, `Creative disciplines education: a model for assessing ideas in entrepreneurship education?', Education and Training, 52, 8/9, pp. 694 — 709


4. Millman, C., Wong, W. and Matlay, H., 2009, `Educating Students for e-Entrepreneurship in the UK, the US and China', Industry and Higher Education, 23, 3, pp. 243-252


5. Matlay, H., 2009, `Entrepreneurship Education in the UK: A Critical Analysis of Stakeholder Involvement and Expectations', Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 9, 16, 2, pp. 355-368


6. Matlay, H., 2008, `The Impact of Entrepreneurship Education on Entrepreneurial Outcomes', Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 15, 2, pp.382-396


Details of the impact

During the 2008 to 2013 period, the Entrepreneurship Education Team has undertaken applied and collaborative research that resulted in a distinct and material contribution to emergent and under-researched aspects of Entrepreneurship Education, focussing specifically upon the development of graduate entrepreneurs at University level in Business Schools and in other, non-business faculties. During this period, team members' research and related results underpinned a significant impact upon the development of entrepreneurship education advice, policy and practice at regional, national and international levels.

The Business School's research has contributed significantly to the development of enterprising individuals in the UK, continental Europe and other industrially developed and developing countries. Impact has been mapped in terms of four universal impact chains:

  • The research influences the broad thinking and practice of practitioners
  • Entrepreneurship education research affects the stance and advice given by specialist advisory bodies in particular countries.
  • The research shapes UK government and EU policies internationally with regard to entrepreneurship development.
  • The research is applied in the entrepreneurship education practices of higher education institutions globally.

Evidence of the impact of the research in each of these regards is detailed below.

Dissemination to practitioners

Throughout the review period, Professor Harry Matlay edited the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, and organised several special issues on topics related to international entrepreneurship education. In addition, since 2000, he guest edited an annual Double Special Issue in Education + Training, dedicated to pertinent educational and training topics, including entrepreneurship education in a national and international context. These special issues promoted international collaboration amongst practitioners as well as the dissemination of best practice and innovative approaches to curriculum design, delivery and assessment.

Additionally, the research team attended and presented their research results at prestigious international practitioner conferences/events, and were also invited to deliver Keynote Presentations and to lead on Themed Workshops on emergent entrepreneurship education topics at prestigious academic and practitioner events in the UK, Continental Europe, China, Indonesia, Australasia and Africa as well as North and South America.

Specialist advisory bodies

Specialist advisory bodies occupy strong lobbying positions with government. They provide guidance and advice to practitioners. In the UK, the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE) for example, was formed in 2004 with the aim of raising the profile of entrepreneurship and the option of starting a business as a career choice amongst students and graduates. By understanding the circumstances in which graduate entrepreneurship can flourish, NCGE's goal was to influence, and inspire, an increase in the number of students and graduates who give serious thought to self-employment or business start-up. Evidence Exhibit 1 (Corroborating Statement) of the corroboration of impact is a formal statement from NCGE confirming the value of the work in "enhancing understanding, thinking and application of policy and practice."

The UK Quality Assurance Agency for higher education's guidance upon Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education drew upon Professor Matlay's expertise as an Advisory Board Member alongside his research (See Evidence Exhibit 9: Report).

Government and EU policy

In the context of the European Community's initiative on entrepreneurship development, Professor Harry Matlay was regularly invited to contribute to entrepreneurship research at expertise level and his research has been widely adopted to inform entrepreneurship education policy and practice.

The EU report "Directions in Entrepreneurship Education in Europe (2011) utilised Professor Matlay's work (Evidence Exhibit 6 (Report)), and the Joint Research Centre confirmed his contribution to have been "extremely valuable" and to have "contributed to the wider policy agenda of the European Union" (Evidence Exhibit 4 (Corroborating Statement)).

The UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills' reports `Graduate Recruitment to SMEs' (2012) (Evidence Exhibit 7 (Report)) and "Enterprise Education Impact in Higher Education and Further Education (2013) (Evidence Exhibit 8 (Report)) drew upon Professor Matlay's longitudinal research, and the department has signalled the work as `best practice', advocating greater use of such approaches "to develop the evidence base".

Evidence Exhibit 2 (Corroborating Statement) documents the contribution of Professor Matlay to the 2012 Wilson Review of Business-University Collaboration for the UK government.

Global higher education practice

At individual, institutional, regional and national levels, team research impacted significantly upon the development of specific aspects of entrepreneurship education, and in particular the involvement of primary stakeholders (e.g., undergraduates, postgraduates, `pracademics' and entrepreneurs) in curriculum design, delivery and assessment.

Many of the entrepreneurship education principles identified by the Business School team have been incorporated into the enterprise development activities of higher education institutions internationally. By way of example, Evidence Exhibit 3 (Corroborating Statement) details the impact on graduate employability and entrepreneurship rates in the University of Tasmania.

Ongoing impact of the Business School's body of work

The work of the team is ongoing and impact is increasingly evident from the specific contributions of other team members. Professor Hussain's ownership succession work upon the role of entrepreneurship education amongst graduate ethnic minority entrepreneurs to restructure and reorganise finances in family businesses has had significant economic impact. Evidence Exhibit 5 (Corroborating Statement) demonstrates the impact of this entrepreneurship education to "enhance economic activity through a greater level of approval of ethnic minority applications".

Overall impact

Collectively, the evidence referred to in this case study confirms the ongoing impact of entrepreneurship education research in the Business School upon policy and practice in the EU and beyond.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Corroborating statement: Former Director of National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship.
  2. Corroborating statement concerning contribution to the Wilson Review, Research Director, Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship, Swansea University.
  3. Corroborating statement: Entrepreneurship Educator, University of Tasmania.
  4. Corroborating statement: Action Leader, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
  5. Corroborating statement: CEO, Aston Reinvestment Trust.
  6. Report: Directions in Entrepreneurship Education in Europe Report, Caroline Rizza, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
  7. Report: UK Government Report, BIS, Graduate Recruitment to SMEs, November 2012.
  8. Report: UK Government Report, BIS, Enterprise Education Impact in Higher Education and Further Education, June 2013.
  9. Report: QAA Guidance for UK Higher Education Providers: `Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education: Guidance for UK higher education providers Appendix 1: Membership of the Advisory Group\pjtbwks.