Entrepreneurs' and Students' Knowledge Structures: A Journey into Their Entrepreneurial Mindset
18 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 29, 2014
This paper investigates how entrepreneurs and students associate a set of 18 concepts in order to gather their Entrepreneurial mindset. Which is the connection that entrepreneurs and students believe to be among concepts such as intuition, innovation and entrepreneur? How they think innovation is associated to risk in an entrepreneurial domain? To what extent passion is connected to the idea of entrepreneur? These questions represent some extract of concepts we asked to connect. An ad-hoc software implementing the Pathfinder algorithm produced a visual representation (simplified networks) of the mindset of each group, composed by 167 students and 29 entrepreneurs. Three questions have driven our study: (1) which are the characteristics of the entrepreneurs and students mindset? (2) Are there any differences between the two representations? (3) Are there any differences among students depending on their educational background? A qualitative inspection, supported by network centrality measures, and a quantitative analysis, based upon the number of links in common among groups' networks (closeness index) and the rank-order correlation among each couple of concepts, have shown that entrepreneurs' and students' representations differ and that these differences increase when comparing entrepreneurs with students in human and natural sciences, rather than with students in social and engineering sciences. Through additional analysis we observed that the highest differences concern concepts such as Failure, Success, Social and Regional context and, in some cases, Innovation and Risk. Suggestions for future research are presented.
Keywords: knowledge structures, mental models, entrepreneurial cognition, pathfinder algorithm
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