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With neoliberalism, universities are considered as crucial partners in sustaining the economic growth of countries and regions by contributing human capital, innovation and technological advances to society. Therefore, there are challenges for the traditional university to accommodate socio-economic obligations all through new entrepreneurial strategies. A new concept has appeared to support Entrepreneurship Education (EE), basically in terms of an environment which is called the Entrepreneurial University (EU), “which is conceived as one of the main economic growth and development engines”. EE was intended to develop an entrepreneurial spirit in the mindset of students “and sensitize them about entrepreneurship interest and to initiate them to create new projects”.
EE has become compulsory in view of the need for business creation as an economic tool for growth and competitiveness. The entrepreneurial approach has become a core to all study specialties and to private institutes as well as to the public. The main three objectives of an entrepreneurial university strategy are: educate, stimulate, and incubate. The background is defined by global and local competition and by the pressures of technological innovation on universities. The widespread perception is that “there is a real need to develop and implement an entrepreneurship culture throughout higher education”. Although it first emerged about two decades ago, the entrepreneurial university concept “is regarded as still in its infancy in developed countries and emerging in developing countries”. Forsman (2008) emphasizes that an Entrepreneurial University is “an organization with a flexible structure, competent leadership and management and where entrepreneurial culture is a key driving force”. Cavaller (2011) maintains that “EU it is an evolutionary model of the traditional university. ” A key to this new paradigm is “research commercialization added to refurbished research and teaching functions”.
To achieve its goals, the EU is “designed to engage with external stakeholders, industry and government, and society at large”. This is named the “Triple Helix Model, ” which involves academic-industry-government cooperation premised under a common politics, policy and methods, aiming at “internal transformation within each of these spheres”.
To be qualified as entrepreneurial, universities should develop different strategies through a thorough transformative process: “(1) the university starts to define its priorities and diversify its income sources; (2) the institution starts commercializing the intellectual property that arises from its research activities; and (3) the university takes an active role in participating in its regional innovation environment”.
Entrepreneurial universities are expected to adapt to environment fluctuation through “internal transformations, such as through changes in governance, management, flexibility and leadership structure, in order to increase its flexibility, efficiency and effectiveness”. To do so, universities put in place more flexible structures, “encompassing an entrepreneurial approach, become proactive and risk-taking when deciding to innovate and seize opportunities, and utilize creatively their resources to achieve objectives”.
To realize these goals, some entrepreneurial activities should be initiated within university environments including “research mobilization, technological development, collaboration with industry, and changes in university policies and within university departments”. Thus, a focus on deep internal transformations (university policies, institutions and culture) is key to the development of entrepreneurial universities. This explains that a major focus of the neoliberal strategy for higher education has been re-educating students in an entrepreneurial direction, including changing their widespread idealistic perceptions of societal environments and their role in society at large.
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