Attitudes of Higher Education students to new venture creation: a preliminary approach to the Portuguese case
Aurora A.C. Teixeira
Institutions of higher education have an important role in the generation of high tech ‘entrepreneurial capacity’. Being entrepreneurship in Portugal an emergent phenomenon there is an urgent need to better understand and develop this area not only by analysing the ‘supply side’ (i.e., the courses taught in this field) but also the ‘demand side’, that is, the attitudes of students, future potential entrepreneurs, to new venture creation. Based on 4413 responses of students enrolled in Portuguese higher education institutions, gathered in June-July 2008, we found, using a multivariate model, that students who had already created a firm although, on average, possess larger entrepreneurial experience and knowledge, they do not reveal high risk propensity or creativity. Those students that have taken some steps to create new businesses and, to a larger extent, those foreseeing their future career as owning their business have higher risk and creative profiles. Students who live in an environment which ‘breads’ entrepreneurship have stronger desire to become entrepreneurs. This supports the contention that entrepreneurship is a learned process and that school, teachers, and other institutions and individuals may encourage entrepreneurial behaviours. ‘Role models’ seem indeed to constitute a key factor fostering entrepreneurship among Portuguese higher education students – in the Portuguese case, the entrepreneur and entrepreneurial company references are, respectively, Belmiro de Azevedo and Sonae. Although in a descriptive analysis students enrolled in non-university (e.g., polytechnics) and private higher education institutions reveal higher effective and potential entrepreneurial propensities, when we (simultaneously) control for a vast number of factors which are likely to affect entrepreneurship propensity, such differences cease to be statistically relevant. Students’ personality (risk, creativity) and demographic traits (gender and age), competencies and familiarity with entrepreneurship (entrepreneurial experience, knowledge, awareness, interest), and contextual factors (professional experience, role models) are important determinants of entrepreneurial propensity, whereas the type of higher education institutions (public vs private, non-university vs university), and, to some extent, the degree (postgraduate vs undergraduate), and the scientific area, fail to emerge as key determinants.
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