The skills needed to thrive in an uncertain future are often thought to fall under the term ‘entrepreneurial mindset’, but New Zealand researcher Darsel Keane has found that there is little clarity about what an entrepreneurial mindset actually is.
While the phrase has become increasingly popular in recent years, Keane, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland, says a coherent definition of the term is still up for debate, so she has turned it into the focus of her PhD of made. research.
Last month, Keane, who is in the early stages of developing a tool to measure the results of entrepreneurial thinking, shared the findings of her project examining the definitions and usage of the term at a conference in Denmark, a country that embraces entrepreneurship education.
“They teach entrepreneurship from ABCs to PhDs and have national frameworks for incorporating this kind of learning into their education system,” she said.
More than ever, Keane argues, teaching and understanding the benefits of entrepreneurship education is vital.
“Imagine a scenario in which a 40-year-old suddenly no longer has a job because artificial intelligence can do it faster; how do we help them develop a set of capabilities that they can use in different environments and transfer across industries? she said.
“This is an area where we can see value in developing an entrepreneurial mindset, but there is a lack of consistency in the literature on what an entrepreneurial mindset actually is.”
Keane believes that a lack of a clear definition hinders our understanding of the crucial role of entrepreneurship in driving innovation and success.
As a first step in clarifying the entrepreneurial mindset, Keane and her co-authors reviewed 471 academic papers from 1989, analyzed the many definitions, constructs, and dimensions of an entrepreneurial mindset, and categorized them into four themes: cognition, competence, personality, and aptitude.
The researcher says they have found that while the term entrepreneurial mindset is widely used and its use has gained momentum since 2010, there is considerable diversity in its definition and construction.
“People have to take this into account. Otherwise, we run the risk that the term will continue to be used superficially instead of developing into a strong idea that explains the differences in entrepreneurial activity and results,” she said.
Keane believes that a universal definition of an entrepreneurial mindset will have far-reaching benefits.
“It will allow us to be clear about what we are training for, writing policies, hiring and building capabilities and what we are investing in,” she said.
“It will also help to develop a tool or system to measure entrepreneurial mindset.”
And that will support program design and provide educators with better tools to assess the outcomes of such courses and communicate their impact, she believes.
For policymakers, Keane says a better understanding of the entrepreneurial mindset will help investors and others involved in developing startups better understand how entrepreneurial thinking can help new ventures grow, while also helping existing companies, nonprofits and government agencies understand how to hire staff, build the wealth and reward for it.