Entrepreneurship education as an arena for career reflection: the shift of students' career preferences after a business planning course
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEducation + Training. 2020, . https://doi.org/10.1108/ET-08-2019-0187
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of entrepreneurship education (EE) in the form of a business planning course on students' career intentions and preferences. While there is extensive research in which traditional survey scales have been applied to study students' entrepreneurial intentions, this study takes a novel approach by extending the construct of entrepreneurial intention to include preferences for intrapreneurship and team entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the use of conjoint analysis captures students' unconscious decision-making processes when presented with different career opportunity scenarios, thereby overcoming many of the limitations of self-reported survey measures. Design/methodology/approach The study uses a quasi-experimental design with a novel application of conjoint analysis in EE research. A two-part survey combining a traditional questionnaire with conjoint analysis was distributed to students enrolled in a business planning course at two campuses of a Norwegian university, resulting in 99 matched pre- and post-test responses. Findings Two main findings arise from the study. First, there is a significant decrease in entrepreneurial intention among students in the EE course. Second, the conjoint analysis contributes to a better understanding of this decrease by illustrating how students shift their career preferences from entrepreneurship to employment during the EE course. This suggests that EE provides a space for students' career reflections where they can explore, commit to and reconsider entrepreneurship as a career. Research limitations/implications A limitation of the study is that it focuses on a small sample of undergraduate students from two campus locations in Norway. Thus, further investigation is still necessary to establish whether the findings are valid in other contexts. The research has implications for higher educational institutions, policymakers and researchers in the field of EE. Practical implications The study contributes with a novel perspective on EE as a trigger for career reflection, a perspective that is important for educators teaching EE courses, as well as for higher education institutions who decide to implement EE in study programmes. Originality/value By focusing on the development of students' career preferences through conjoint analysis, the study expands knowledge on the impact of EE on students' careers, while also accentuating the value of the application of conjoint analysis in research on EE.