How Do Australia's Universities Engage with Entrepreneurship and Small Business?
Centre for Entrepreneurial Management and Innovation (CEMI) Discussion Paper No. 1401 ISSN 1448-2541.
35 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2014 Last revised: 22 Jun 2014
Date Written: April 5, 2014
Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) comprise the majority of businesses in the Australian economy. Most are run by owner-managers who have little formal education in business and their level of innovation remains low. Universities offer the potential to enhance both the management skills and competencies of small business owner-managers, and the innovativeness of their firms. This study examines the level of engagement with SMEs by Australia’s universities through a study of their education, research and industry outreach programs as viewed through their website information. The findings show that most universities offer courses in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation, with some also focusing on small business management. Most of these courses are offered via undergraduate or postgraduate degree programs as individual units or areas of specialisation. Several have specialist degrees in the field of entrepreneurship. Around 21% of Australia’s universities have dedicated centres in entrepreneurship or small business that undertake research and in some cases management education or outreach programs. Others have research centres that undertake research with a relevance to SMEs, and there are also some research programs or groups that conduct studies into SMEs and entrepreneurship. A smaller number have well-designed industry outreach programs targeting SMEs and entrepreneurs. Overall, while Australia’s universities are fairly active in teaching and researching the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation and small business, their level of engagement with SMEs remains limited and is focused on a relatively small number of institutions. In general the “hands on” engagement by academics with SMEs is not a strategic priority within most institutions.
Keywords: education, Entrepreneurship, research, Small Business, universities
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