Forming Entrepreneurial Mindsets? Preliminary Evidence of Teaching Practices from Primary Schools in a Developing Area in South America
Figueiredo-Nery, Maria Auxiliadora N.
Figueiredo, Paulo N.
Over the past few years there has been a renewed interest by governments, companies and academics in the role of entrepreneurship in innovation and economic growth. There has also been a proliferation of studies on education for entrepreneurship in industrialised and developing countries. However, by addressing ‘entrepreneurship’ in terms of SMEs and high-tech start-ups, they overlook: (i) the blurring distinctions between entrepreneurial and managerial capitalism, (ii) an erosion of the Schumpeterian dichotomy between large and small firms, and (iii) the growing importance of entrepreneurial management within companies as a source for economic growth. Additionally, ‘entrepreneurship’ tends to be taught as a stand-alone topic in higher education and business/non-business courses. Empirical studies related to entrepreneurship education within primary schools, especially in least developed locations in developing countries, are largely missing in this field. Drawing on first-hand empirical evidence from primary schools in a developing area in South America, this paper examines the incidence and functioning of pedagogic practices potentially related to the initial formation of entrepreneurial mindsets. The findings show that, despite some efforts, the researched schools suffered from, not surprisingly, inadequate physical conditions and, most importantly, teachers’ unawareness and deficient qualification related to the adoption of these techniques. These problems seemed to prevent children from developing important features of their initial entrepreneurial mindsets. Thus, if companies and countries want to secure their sources of revolutionary ideas and continuous and des-continuous innovation, they need to have a long-term commitment to continuously develop and nurture the seeds for their future innovative knowledge bases. Specifically, a comprehensive, long-term, geographically and socially inclusive perspective on entrepreneurship education, that is, from primary school levels, especially in least developed areas, is badly needed to improve our understanding and policy recommendations in this field. Otherwise, all the discussions in favour of entrepreneurship education will not evolve beyond hype and rhetoric.