The new social and economic global outlook claims that European Union should take coherent strategic actions in training and education in order to better react to some challenges like the growing unemployment among young citizens, the new technologies and learning methods and entrepreneurial skills development. According to the 2020 Entrepreneurship Action Plan, education and training play an essential role in nurturing new generations of entrepreneurs. In this context, the present paper aims to measure the entrepreneurial intention among the Romanian students, to identify the main predictors of entrepreneurial behaviour and to generate the skills profile of the entrepreneur according to students' perceptions. In order to reach the purpose of the study, a students' survey was conducted across fundamental study domains in an average-sized and diversified university in Romania. According to students' perceptions, entrepreneurship is considered to be a science rather than an art, and the university should be concerned with entrepreneurial skills development no matter what the fundamental field is, which is considered by students as being core competences across fields.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship educationentrepreneurial skillspredictors of entrepreneurial behaviourstudents
During the last two decades, the higher education at the national and at EU level has recorded
major changes in terms of organization, curriculum and strategy These changes within the higher
education institutions are correlated with the dynamics and the volatility of the labour market and
economic outlook at the global level. Thus, these days, the higher education institutions are facing major
challenges: (1) The urgent correlation of the competences and qualifications provided through the
curriculum by universities with the required skills on the labour market, (2) the urgent correlation
between the educational offer of the universities and the long term qualifications requirements, (3) the
correlation between the disciplines within the curriculum and the required competences on the labour
market, (4) the usage of new teaching methods and new contexts of learning that will allow the
acquisition of new competences that are not provided using the traditional way of teaching but are very
important for employers.
Within the light of the new European Union outlook of the higher education institution mission,
the entrepreneurial education is very important. According to Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan,
education and training play an essential role in nurturing new generations of entrepreneurs. The European
Commission through different communications drew up the attention regarding the importance of the
entrepreneurial education and entrepreneurial skill development in EU universities. In this line some EU
communications should be mentioned: "Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all
through new Technologies and Open Educational Resources" (2013), "European higher education in the
world" (2013), "Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes" (2012),
"Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernization of Europe's higher education systems"
(2011). Also, in this context, we should mention the interventions of the European Parliament which
through several resolutions (2013 and 2015) emphasized the importance of the general entrepreneurial
skills development for the young people and called on the Member States to give them greater weight in
their universities curriculum.
Also, the European Parliament, the European Commission and Eurydice Network have underlined
that students participating in entrepreneurship education are more likely to start their own business and
their companies tend to be more innovative and more successful than those led by people without
entrepreneurship education backgrounds. If the USA and China have adopted concret measures to
stimulate entreprenurial behaviour through education, there is a certain gap in the UE regading concret
actions for entreprenurial development. Thus, the entrepreneurial education development in EU countries
is under the level needs because of the lack of correlation between research, knowledge generation,
education and business environment. In Romania the entrepreneurial education is less structured and
strategy-orientated than in other UE countries, even if some Romanian universities have adopted different
approaches and have implemented different European funded projects for entrepreneurial education
development. Still, such initiatives are isolated and without significant results. Thus, according to
European statistics, in Romania about 10% entrepreneurs have a strong education in entrepreneurship,
while the European value is around 30%. It should be noted that in Romania, over the last years, different
non-profit associations, and also governmental agencies have adopted and implemented different
initiatives to support entrepreneurial education for start-ups development.
Regarding the entrepreneurial potential, different studies conducted in Romania (EY Romania,
2014) have found a high intention of entrepreneurship among students in different universities. In spite of
the high entrepreneurial intention, the numbers of those students that will be actually involved in the
entrepreneurship is quite low.
In the context described above, the present paper has the purpose to measure the entrepreneurial
intention among students, to identify the main predictors of entrepreneurial behaviour and also the main
barriers for entrepreneurship in students' perception and to generate the skills profile of the entrepreneur
according to students. Thus, the main research questions in this study were:
"he / she was born with"?
What are the main skills of the entrepreneur?
What are the main predictors for entrepreneurship behaviour?
The Entrepreneurship - an Overview on International Research
Can We Learn to Become Entrepreneurs?
Over the last decade the entrepreneurship has been one of the most important research fields in
different areas of study. The flourishing of the entrepreneurship as a research field is connected with the
fact that today, entrepreneurship is largely recognized as a key factor in economic growth, job creation
and economic sustainable development. Over time researchers have analyzed entrepreneurs and tried to
identify which are the factors that explain the fact that some people are involved in entrepreneurship
behaviour and others are not involved in such behaviour, finding out whether there is a general pattern for
entrepreneurs, in order to design a skills profile of the entrepreneur.
One of the debates in the international research is the one regarding the nature of entrepreneurship.
In this debate researchers tried to find out if entrepreneurship is something that can be learned or
something that someone is born with. In general terms entrepreneurship is seen as an art and a science,
the latter being seen as “teachable”, the former generally not (Department for Business, Innovation &
Skills, UK, 2015). Even if there are some certain personality characteristics and attributes associated with
the entrepreneurial behaviour that cannot be learnt, all the time, Peter Drucker argued that “most of what
you hear about entrepreneurship is all wrong. It is not magic; it is not mysterious; and it has nothing to do
with genes. It is a discipline and, like any discipline, it can be learned”. According to the World
Economic Forum (2009) “all human beings are inherently entrepreneurial, that is, entrepreneurial
potential is in all of us”. But, according to Marques and Albuquerque (2012) there are some qualities that
cannot be taught, but certain competencies can be stimulated, trained and potentiated to become an
entrepreneur. The same idea was underlined by Henry et al (2005) claiming that certain aspects of
entrepreneurship can successfully be taught. Also, Vaidya (2014) claimed that the question if the
entrepreneurs are born is no longer a relevant one, because entrepreneurship is, in fact, multi-dimensional.
The same author claimed that broadly, entrepreneurship education involves attitudes, skills and personal
qualities. Within this debate, there is a common point. Entrepreneurship is a mix between some personal
characteristics and abilities, knowledge and skills acquired / developed through learning within the
education system and from the real life. More recently entrepreneurship is being viewed as a way of
thinking and behaving (Cooney, 2012).
What Are the Skills and the Personal Features of the Entrepreneurs?
If the entrepreneurial skills can be developed through education, an important aspect is to establish
a pattern of the entrepreneurial skills. So, what are the entrepreneur skills (ES)?
During the time different researches focused on ES identification. As Chell (2013) claimed, in
general, skills should be understood as being something that can be learnt and improved with practice.
Henry (2005) considered the entrepreneur is an individual who has the ability to see and evaluate business
opportunities; gather the necessary resources to take advantage of them, and initiate. In this light, the
most important skills of the entrepreneur are the capacity in finding business opportunity, the capacity to
capitalize on the business opportunity. The same idea is concluded by the Department for Business,
Innovation & Skills (UK, 2015) in one of its research report, entrepreneurship skills are associated with
competence in the process of opportunity identification (and/or creation), the ability to capitalize on
identified opportunities and a range of skills associated with developing and implementing business plans
to enable such opportunities to be realized. A synthetic frame of the most important findings regarding
the entrepreneurial skills and features is presented in Table no. 1.
In conclusion, the entrepreneur profile is a matrix that combine knowledge, competences, personal
abilities and the capacity to put ideas into practice and capitalize on the opportunity, as presented in Table no. 2.
The students' survey was conducted in a diversified medium-sized university from Romania,
during the period 10 April - 5 Jun 2016. The data were collected from a sample consisting of 322 students,
in 5 fundamental study fields: engineering sciences, bilogical and biomedical sciences, social sciences,
humanist sciences and arts, science of sports and physical education. The reliability of the developed
scale was assessed using Cronbach's alpha tests. Thus, for measuring the entrepreneur skill there was used
a 13-item scale, each item being assessed using a 5-steps Likert scale. The Cronbach's alpha for the 13
items achieved a value of 0.847 that confirmed the internal consistency of the measurement scale
developed. Also, for measuring the entrepreneur behaviour predictors there was used a 10-item scale,
each item being assessed using a 5-steps Likert scale. The Cronbach's alpha for the 10 items achieved a
value of 0.798 that confirmed the internal consistency of the measurement scale developed. The validity
of the developed scale was achieved in the context of literature review.
According to the students’ survey results, a relatively high entrepreneurial potential was identified
within the university where the study was conducted, according to the central tendency assessed to the
entire sample level. Thus, up to 60.9% of the surveyed students are thinking to start their own businesses.
Looking at the fundamental study fields, the highest entrepreneurial potential was identified as follows:
(1) Science of sports and physical education, (2) engineering sciences, (3) social sciences. However, most
students that have a high entrepreneurial intention will develop a start-up after graduation, 40.4%
considering that they will become entrepreneurs in 1-3 years time. Looking at the South-Muntenia
Region contexts, the surveyed students consider that there is a medium level of business opportunities,
according to the central tendency assessed at the entire sample level (M=3,3292). The most important
favourable factors for doing businesses in the South-Muntenia Region, according to students’ perceptions,
are: (1) The favourable geographic position, (2) the opportunity of accessing the European funds, (3) the
high qualified human resources, (4) the industrial development. The three top most attractive business
domains, according to the students with a high intension of entrepreneurship for developing a strart-up are
as follows: (1) Services, (2) commerce, (3) agriculture.
Regarding the inhibitors of the entrepreneurial behaviour, according to the empirical findings, the
students considered the lack of initial capital for starting the business as the most important barrier to
entrepreneurship. The second inhibitor underlined by students was the lack of entrepreneur experience
and the lack of knowledge of entrepreneurship. These two factors are by far the most important barriers to
entrepreneurship. However, the empirical findings underlined some other inhibitors with medium
importance as follows, that are intenal and external contextual ones: (1) The high level of taxes, (2) the
unfavorable legislation, (3) the difficulties in accessing the crediting, (4) the fear of failure.
Asking the students if the professional training of an entrepreneur is important, most of them put a
great emphasis on the qualification and learning as a key factor for entrepreneurship. This is sustained by
the central tendency assessed at the entire sample level (M=4,5776).
For developing the entrepreneur skills profile, in students’ perceptions, there were selected 13
skills and abilities based on the literature review, according to table no.3.
According to the empirical results presented in Table no.3, the surveyed students are aware that an
entrepreneur should have an entire set of skills and abilities, all the measured items recorded main values
up to 4 (on a high extent). However, some abilities and skills are more important than others. Thus, in
students’ perception an entrepreneur has, first of all, very good strategic thinking and he/she is a very
creative person and a very good communicator. Also, an entrepreneur has a very good capacity of
identifying and capitalizing on the opportunities, and also a very good capacity of identifying and managing risks, being a good negotiator (figure no.1).
Looking at the top 6 abilities and skills of the entrepreneur, according to the surveyed students, the
further question is: Can these abilities and skills be developed through entrepreneurial education?
According to students’ perception, the university should contribute to a high extent to developing the
thinking and the skills of entrepreneurship. This is sustained by the central tendency assessed at the entire
sample level (M=4,3043). Also, the surveyed students appreciated that the entrepreneurship is a science
(M=3,6938) rather than an art (M=3,4483). However, they admit that some personal abilities are
something that an entrepreneur is born with. Other important research questions in this study were related
with identification of the entrepreneurship motivators. Why have some students got an entrepreneurial
intention? What is motivating them? What is behind entrepreneurial behaviour?
In order to assess the predictors of entrepreneurial behaviour among students we used 10 items
that combine personal, professional and social motivators of the entrepreneurship, presented in table no. 4.
These motivators are the “catalysts” of the entrepreneurial behaviour.
According to the empirical findings students are motivated, first of all, by personal and
professional fulfilment in order to engage in entrepreneurial behaviour. Also, the higher income and the
higher quality of life are representing important predictors for such a behaviour. An interesting predictor
was identified as the desire of capitalizing on the opportunities. Thus, proactivity is an important feature
of the entrepreneurship. Finally, in the top six motivators of the entrepreneurial behaviour, in students’ perception, we can find the security of the self-employment status.
Discussions and Conclusions
The present study aims to measure the entrepreneurial potential among Romanian students, to
design the entrepreneur profile according to students’ perceptions, to identify the predictors of the
entrepreneurial behaviour that explain why some students are willing to engage in an entrepreneurial
behaviour and to measure the students’ expectations regarding the entrepreneurial education and
university contribution to such education. Also, in this study, we measured students’ perceptions
regarding the core nature of entrepreneurship – art vs. science, in order to bring an additional insight in
this debate. The entrepreneurship is more important than ever being considered an important global
economic growth key. The entrepreneurial education has become more and more important,
entrepreneurial skills becoming a transversal competence across the educational fields. However, the
development of these skills still poses a challenge for many universities. Thus, in the light of the present
study findings some questions are raising: Does the current curriculum contribute to the development of
the entrepreneurial skills, regardless the fundamental study domain? Are these skills really transversal
across the fundamental study domains? Does university really develop the strategic thinking of the
students? How can the university stimulate the creativity of the students? These kinds of questions are
fundamental in developing the curriculum for entrepreneurial education and remain a challenge for higher
education institutions in the global economic outlook. But, which are the skills and abilities that the
university should consider in curriculum development for delivering the entrepreneurial education
programs? According to the international research the profiling of the entrepreneurial skills and features
is still a topic under debate. Form this debate rises the conclusion that there is a certain set of
entrepreneurial skills and abilities that combine some personal features of the individual with certain
features developed through education. Also, the debate regarding the nature of the entrepreneurship is still
an open topic. According to the empirical findings of the students survey the top six entrepreneurial skills
are related to strategic thinking, creativity, communication, capacity of identifying and capitalizing on the
opportunities, capacity of identifying and managing risks, and negotiation. However, the surveyed
students admit that entrepreneurship is based on a complex set of abilities and skills. Without
underestimating the importance of some personal abilities and features of the individual, we can conclude
that, on a high extent, the top six identified entrepreneurial skills can be developed through education.
This results sustain what Drucker (1993) underlined about entrepreneurship: “It is not magic; it is not
mysterious; and it has nothing to do with genes. It is a discipline and, like any discipline, it can be
learned.”. Also, in this line the World Economic Forum (2009) argued that “all human beings are
inherently entrepreneurial, that is, entrepreneurial potential is in all of us”. However, some people engage
in entrepreneurial behaviour and others do not engage in such behaviour. If there is an entrepreneurial
potential in each and every individual, what makes the difference between entrepreneurs and those that
remain at the employee status? The differences can be found in a complex mix of internal (individual)
and external (environmental) contextual factors, and also in the predictors of entrepreneurship,
representing some motivators correlated with entrepreneurial behaviour. According to the students’
survey, the personal and professional fulfilment were the most important predictors, but also the secure
life achieved through higher income and a higher quality of life. Also, students are ready to engage in
entrepreneurship considering the security of the self-employee status. The empirical findings pointed out
that the social aspects such as a “better social status” or the “respect for the entrepreneurs” are the least
important motivators. An interesting result is the fact that proactivity is a predictor of entrepreneurship,
while the desire to capitalize on the opportunities was assessed as an important motivator of the
entrepreneurship. Behind the motivation of the entrepreneurial behaviour there are many inhibiting
factors with external contextual bases such as high taxes, unfavourable legislation, difficulties in
accessing crediting for funding the business and so on, and also inhibiting factors with internal contextual
bases such as the lack of experience and entrepreneurial knowledge, the fear of failure, that are
diminishing the entrepreneurial behaviour. Thus, even if in this study we identified a relatively high
entrepreneurial potential, it can be expected that only a small part of this potential to become effective
entrepreneurship in a long run. The present study brings its contribution to a better understanding of the
entrepreneurship, in general terms, and also to a better understanding of the core nature of the
entrepreneurial behaviour, presenting the entrepreneur skills and abilities profile that was developed
based on the empirical data collected in a students’ survey. Thus, the empirical findings bring additional
insights regarding different aspects of the entreprenuarship representing a decision-making support for the managers within the higher education institutions in order to develop entreprenurial education.
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Duțu, A., Diaconu, M., & Georgescu, B. (2019). The Road From School To Real Life: Entrepreneurial Behaviour Among Romanian Students. In E. Soare, & C. Langa (Eds.), Education Facing Contemporary World Issues, vol 23. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1928-1938). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2017.05.02.238