International Journal of Entrepreneurship (Print ISSN: 1099-9264; Online ISSN: 1939-4675)

Research Article: 2023 Vol: 27 Issue: 1S


Adri Du Toit, North-West University

Citation Information: Toit D A. (2022). Appraising the entrepreneurial mindset of university lecturers. International Journal of Entrepreneurship, 27(S1), 1-16.


The importance of fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in students is often highlighted in entrepreneurship education research. The entrepreneurial mindset of university lecturers who facilitate entrepreneurship education, has, however, received little attention. The purpose of this study was to explore the entrepreneurial mindset of university lecturers and how this could impact their beliefs regarding and facilitating of entrepreneurship education. An exploratory case study was conducted in this qualitative research design. Lecturers in one faculty at a South African university were invited to anonymously complete an online questionnaire. ATLAS. Ti software was used to analyse data thematically, to provide insights into these lecturers’ perceptions about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education, and ultimately their own entrepreneurial mindset. The findings indicate that most lecturers view entrepreneurship education as only contributing to self-employment or business development. Few lecturers were aware of the broader value-creation purpose of entrepreneurship education, and how this could contribute to their students’ education. The perceived benefits that entrepreneurship education can contribute to the preparation of students are underdeveloped and needs to be promoted. Bolstering lecturers’ knowledge and understanding of the expanded value-creation purpose of entrepreneurship education contributes to a more positive opinion and mindset regarding entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. It also offers more insights into how they could embed such learning in their existing university modules. These aspects must be included in professional development programmes for lecturers involved in entrepreneurship education to better prepare them for the effective facilitation of such learning.


Entrepreneurship Education, Entrepreneurial Mindset, Faculty, University Lecturers, 21st Century Skills.


The contribution of entrepreneurial mindset to entrepreneurship education is increasingly reported in research. The definition, influence, value and development of an entrepreneurial mindset, as well as factors that influence it, have been explored across various levels of education (Colombelli et al., 2022; Du Toit, 2021; Green et al., 2020; Hylton et al., 2020; Jackson et al., 2021; Koukakou et al., 2019; Mukhtar et al., 2021; Ridley et al., 2017). Increasingly, studies on entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial mindset at university level are reported. Since the purpose of universities is to prepare students to thrive in life and employment (Toding & Venesaar, 2018), the expansion of entrepreneurship education in tertiary education is well-founded (Al Haddad et al., 2021; Wraae et al., 2021). The fundamental contribution of entrepreneurial mindset to learning is extolled in several studies (Benchrifa et al., 2017; Colombelli et al., 2022; Hylton et al., 2020; Krueger, 2017; Ridley et al., 2019), meriting its inclusion in entrepreneurship education programmes.

Students are the ‘audience’ in some entrepreneurship education frameworks (Du Toit, 2018; Fayolle & Gailley, 2008; Ghina et al., 2015) and they will therefore benefit most from its inclusion in their tertiary education. But, considering that lecturers (or ‘faculty’) are the ones who work “behind the scenes” (Wraae et al., 2020) to plan, construct and facilitate the learning process to enable its effective facilitation, they too must have a deep understanding of the value and purpose of entrepreneurship, as well as a positive entrepreneurial mindset. Most research published, however, focus on students’ entrepreneurial mindset (Colombelli et al., 2022; Green et al., 2020; Ridley et al., 2017; Tiernan & O’Kelly, 2022) and only limited research could be uncovered about lecturers’ entrepreneurial mindset, and how this impacts their facilitation of entrepreneurship education.

The role of lecturers as part of the development and expansion of entrepreneurship education in university programmes, and in particular what lecturers’ entrepreneurial mindset is before they start teaching entrepreneurship, have therefore not been reported in much detail yet. The purpose of the current study was then to explore and understand what lecturers’ mindset and beliefs are regarding entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. This was important, as both these aspects may critically impact the how lecturers facilitate entrepreneurship education (Otach, 2019). The questions that guided the research reported here, was therefore “What are the perceptions and mindset of lecturers regarding entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education?” and “How do lecturers’ beliefs and mindset regarding entrepreneurship impact their views on facilitating entrepreneurship education?”

The paper reports the study using the following structure: the theoretical background informed by a literature review is presented, followed by details describing the study design and research methods that were used. Subsequently the findings are discussed, followed by the study’s conclusions, and recommendations, including suggestions for future research.

Theoretical Background

Entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial mindset

Increasingly ‘entrepreneurship education’, ‘enterprise education’ and ‘entrepreneurial education’ are recognised as different concepts, despite these terms sometimes being used interchangeably (Benchrifa et al., 2017; Chhabra et al., 2021; Cualheta & Abbad, 2021; Douglas, 2017; Pivot Global Education, 2020; Sirelkhatim & Gangi, 2015). Consensus on the precise differentiation of these terms have not been achieved. Predominant opinions include that entrepreneurship education focuses mainly on new venture creation, whereas enterprise education is more about opportunity recognition, and developing personal attributes and skills for creativeness and innovation (Lackeus, 2015; Morselli, 2018; Tiernan & O’Kelly, 2022). In efforts to present a more unified concept, the term ‘entrepreneurial education’ has been suggested to highlight the value creation purpose of entrepreneurship, encompassing both enterprise – and entrepreneurship education (Grigg, 2021; Lackeus, 2015). The purpose of the current research was not, however, to contribute to this terminology debate, and therefore, the term ‘entrepreneurship education’ is used primarily in this paper. All these terms, however, include the word education, signifying a reciprocal relationship between the student and the lecturer. So, in all these educational approaches linked to entrepreneurship, both students and lecturers have particular roles to play. Highlighting the important contribution of lecturers in the education process, Bell (2022), for example, mentions that “entrepreneurship educators can shape the entrepreneurship education landscape”.Benchrifa et al., 2017

Entrepreneurial mindset emerged as another shared characteristic in all these entrepreneurial educational approaches (; Hylton et al., 2020; Jackson et al., 2021; Kouakou et al., 2019; Mukhtar et al., 2021; Ridley et al., 2017). Some scholars even state that developing an entrepreneurial mindset is the main goal of entrepreneurship education (Cualheta & Abbad, 2021; Neck & Corbett, 2018). Yet, despite its importance, most research focus only on developing students’ mindset, and not that of lecturers who teach entrepreneurship educatiofn.

Conceptual framework

This paper responds to frameworks proposed in literature for addressing university-level entrepreneurship education. Several of these frameworks aim to contribute to effective entrepreneurship education and include the role (to some extent) of lecturers in the process (for example, Chhabra et al., 2021; Grigg, 2021; Jones & Matlay, 2011; Toding & Venesaar, 2018; Wraae et al., 2020). These frameworks include entrepreneurship educators training and entrepreneurial experience (Chhabra et al., 2021); as well as their professional development, knowledge, understanding, and various competencies (Grigg, 2021) as requirements for effective facilitation of entrepreneurship education. (Wraae et al., 2020) places the entrepreneurship educator at the centre of their framework, signifying their important role in entrepreneurship education, but do not mention the mindset of lecturers. Likewise, (Toding & Venesaar, 2018) include mindset only as part of students learning outcomes (or the product) of their ‘Teaching and learning model of entrepreneurship’. The pattern identified in these frameworks indicate that entrepreneurial mindset seems to be owned by students, with no mention made of the effect of the entrepreneurial mindset of lecturers in the education process.

The current paper therefore supports (Otach, 2019), who highlights the importance of the influence of lecturers on students’ leaning. (Otach, 2019) particularly notes that the “point is not that EE [entrepreneurship education] lecturers must become business entrepreneurs before they can teach EE”, but rather that “EE lecturers must be entrepreneurially minded. They must have an entrepreneurial mindset”. These statements underscore the influence that lecturers have on students’ thinking as well as students’ mindset, and the implied need to develop the entrepreneurial mindset of lecturers themselves. Based on the dearth of research available on the entrepreneurial mindset of university lecturers, these questions therefore remained: “What are the perceptions and mindset of lecturers regarding entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education?” and “How do lecturers’ beliefs and mindset regarding entrepreneurship impact their views on facilitating entrepreneurship education?”

The research was conducted within a conceptual framework constructed from the research of (Fayolle & Gailly, 2008; Jones & Matley, 2011; Lackéus, 2015; Sirelkhatim & Gangi, 2015; Otache, 2019). These scholars refer to educational concepts that contribute to entrepreneurship education as ‘why, what, when, how, where and who’, in various combinations. Regarding entrepreneurship education, these authors explain that ‘why’ refers to the rationale for such education; ‘what’ refers to the content, competencies and skills taught; ‘when’ refers to educational or developmental levels, and ‘how’ entails pedagogical approaches and teaching-learning issues. ‘Where’ encompasses the context in which entrepreneurship education will be offered. The ‘who’ in most entrepreneurship education frameworks refers to students as the target audience of education (Fayolle & Gailley, 2008; Ghina et al., 2105). From a different viewpoint, (Otache, 2019) however notes “who should teach EE?” as the starting

point for exploring such a framework, prominently including entrepreneurship educators as part of the ‘who’ in entrepreneurship education. The current paper therefore focused on exploring the role of university lecturers as part of the ‘who’ concept in entrepreneurship education frameworks.

Contributing insights from literature, the following issues were explored in more depth in the conceptual framework: the purpose of entrepreneurship education; entrepreneurship education in universities; the role of lecturers in facilitating entrepreneurship education; and developing an entrepreneurial mindset as part of entrepreneurship education.

The purpose of entrepreneurship education

The idea that the main purpose of entrepreneurship education is to contribute to venture creation and job creation, pervades literature (Al Haddad et al., 2021; Chhabra et al., 2021; Lackeus, 2015; Wraae et al., 2022). Although this view is changing (Tiernan & O’Kelly, 2022), many academics still focus mainly on venture creation as the goal (or the ‘why’) of entrepreneurship education (Cualheta & Abbad, 2021; ELI, 2021; McGuigan 2016; Pivot Global Education, 2020). Such a viewpoint disregards the broader value-creation purpose of entrepreneurship education reported in recent publications.

The value of the competencies, mindset and skills development embedded in entrepreneurship education have broader relevance than only for self-directed employment or venue creation (Du Toit, 2022; Wraae et al., 2020). According to (Brown, 2018:31), entrepreneurship education “is not just about preparing students to set up and successfully run their own business, but it is also to equip them with the skills to be successful in the world of work”. Entrepreneurship education will therefore benefit students, whether they choose to ‘become an entrepreneur’ or whether they are employed by someone else. (Neck & Corbett, 2018) expand the potential benefits associated with entrepreneurship education to life outside the world of work, noting that such education supports development of “the life skills necessary to live productive lives even if one does not start a business” (Neck & Corbett, 2018:10). The learning in the entrepreneurship education process is therefore valuable, extending further than venture creation.

In addition to beneficial learning embedded in the process, the value-creation purpose of entrepreneurship education is highlighted as part of the learning outcomes, as reflected in contemporary definitions. The Entrepreneurial Mindset Imperative (ELI, 2021) defines entrepreneurship as “the self-directed pursuit of opportunities to create value for others”. The value created could therefore benefit students themselves or others, which “moves the emphasis from the self (self-employment, own income generation, for example) to include a broader field of beneficence” (Du Toit, 2022). Value-creation often extends to contexts beyond students’ educational sphere (Grigg, 2021) and can be for-profit or non-profit (Du Toit, 2021), relating to personal, economic, social, cultural or even environmental issues. Calls to increase entrepreneurship education programmes that will enable the development of the “attitudes and skills necessary for creating social, economic, or cultural value for others” (ELI, 2022) are mounting. To attain this value-creation purpose of entrepreneurship education, educational institutions must “prioritize entrepreneurial mindset education” across all levels of education (ELI, 2021). The purpose of entrepreneurship education to prepare students for more than venture creation, but also for thriving in life and the world of work, has resulted in an increasing number of universities expanding such education in their tertiary programmes.

Entrepreneurship education at universities

The purpose of entrepreneurship education described the rationale or ‘why’ of these programmes. This section therefore briefly reviews the ‘what, when, where, and how’ of entrepreneurship education at university level.

The ‘what’ concept broadly addresses the content, skills or competencies included in university entrepreneurship education programmes (Cualheta & Abbad, 2021; Henry, 2020; Toding & Venesaar, 2018). The development of various skills, competencies and attitudes that contribute to entrepreneurial learning form part of entrepreneurship education content (Cualheta & Abbad, 2021; Pivot Global Education, 2020). Content may include topics related to business plans or venture creation, ways of thinking or ideation (Wraae et al., 2020), but is often much broader than that. The diversity of content associated with entrepreneurship education can be overwhelming to educators, hence (Henry, 2020) suggests that educators should rather focus “on getting students to think about entrepreneurship, encouraging them to explore what it means to them, shaping their attitudes towards entrepreneurship and increasing both their awareness of and receptiveness to the entrepreneurial process”. She therefore proposes that entrepreneurship education should start with developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Henry (2020) concludes that entrepreneurship educators should consider how their own experiences and perspectives regarding entrepreneurship might impact how they aggregate content and implement entrepreneurship education.

Considering that university entrepreneurship education is positioned at an educational phase preceding entry to the world of work, as well as a phase of life where students generally will have to take more responsibility to self-directly survive – or (hopefully) thrive – on their own, the ‘when’ aspect of such learning becomes even more significant. For these reasons, many universities have linked entrepreneurship education to particular programmes, for example in engineering courses (Lackeus, 2016; Shekhar & Huang-Saad, 2021; Zappe, 2018), STEM programmes (Henry, 2020), teacher preparation programmes (Du Toit, 2018; Van Tonder & Du Toit, 2020), agricultural sciences (Mshenga et al. 2020), and – most often – in business and management programmes (Forje, 2021 et al). Most of these programmes aim to bridge perceived gaps between university education and the needs of employers, but more frequently also aim to prepare students to thrive in their lives after graduation (Du Toit, 2022).

The ‘where’ or context in which entrepreneurship education is offered, greatly affects the planning and implementation of entrepreneurship education. For this reason, (Lackéus, 2015) cautions that students’ lived experiences and the educational environment within which this learning takes place, must be considered as part of constructing entrepreneurship education. Jones and Matley (2011) additionally highlight the contributions of universities in their communities and how entrepreneurship education can be adapted for particular contexts. In South Africa, universities “are simultaneously intensely local and intensely global” (Pivot Global Education, 2020) aiming to compete internationally, but also having to make a positive difference in their local contexts. South Africa has one of the highest levels of youth unemployment globally, and the highest GINI coefficient at 63, yet has a low rate of entrepreneurial activity (Pivot Global Education, 2020). In this context, the South African government is “committed to fostering entrepreneurship to advance its economic development and, in particular, job creation”, and local universities are increasingly called upon to contribute to this endeavour (Pivot Global Education, 2020).

‘How’ entrepreneurship education is approached or facilitated refers broadly to the teaching-learning or pedagogical choices utilised for its implementation (Otache, 2019; Tiernan & O’Kelly, 2022; Toding & Venesaar, 2018). Various teaching-learning methods are used in university-level entrepreneurship education, which generally diverge from traditional lecture-based approaches. Highlighting this contrast, (Lackeus, 2015) describes the learner-centred, active, project-based, experiential, multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach that is preferred for entrepreneurship education. (Wraae et al., 2020) however caution that the role of educators or lecturers (‘who’) in entrepreneurship education cannot be separated from the pedagogical choices made in its facilitation, reminding us that these “educators bring their personal values and beliefs with them into the classroom”.

The roles of lecturers in facilitating entrepreneurship education

The contributions of entrepreneurship educators are critical in the learning process and significantly impact students' learning environment (Tiernan & O’Kelly, 2022). Until recently, this issue was only explored to a limited extent (Wraae & Walmsley, 2020). Several varied and broad roles are attributed to entrepreneurship educators as part of the educational process (Bell, 2022; Neck & Corbett, 2018; Wraae & Walmsley, 2020; Wraae et al., 2021), including that entrepreneurship lecturers or educators.

1. Are facilitators of deep and meaningful learning
2. Guide students to become more self-directed in their learning
3. Mentor and inspire students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset
4. Embed entrepreneurship education into institutional programmes
5. Help students connect entrepreneurial learning to real-world situations
6. Model preferred entrepreneurial behaviours as part of the educational process
7. Continuously adapt to the dynamic and changing situations in which they teach and
8. Mediate and explain the conceptions of entrepreneurship in their communities.

Educators’ beliefs and values underpin how they think about and enact these roles in entrepreneurship education (Bell, 2022). The influence of lecturers' perspectives and beliefs regarding entrepreneurship and how these impact their facilitation of entrepreneurship education still needs more exploration (Henry, 2020; Wraae et al., 2021). (Jackson et al., 2021) warn that "Faculty who understand what entrepreneurship is but do not understand the mindset of being an entrepreneur will be less likely to help students develop a stronger entrepreneurial mindset”. It is therefore critical to understand what lecturers' mindset and beliefs are regarding entrepreneurship and how these aspects may enable more successful facilitation of entrepreneurship education.

Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Entrepreneurship Education

“Universities that create the right environment for entrepreneurial mindset will be more successful” (Green et al., 2019). Similarly, (Mukhtar et al., 2021) found that entrepreneurial mindset has a more significant impact on students’ adoption of entrepreneurship as a potential career choice than entrepreneurship education itself. (Jha, 2021) views entrepreneurial mindset as “an essential life skill”, which benefits students across various aspects of their lives, not only in their career or if they become an entrepreneur. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset as part of entrepreneurship education is clearly important, but what does the term refer to?

In straightforward terms, a mindset is a way of thinking or believing about something, someone’s opinion - in the current study: what lecturers think of or believe regarding entrepreneurship education. Entrepreneurial mindset includes a dynamic set of skills, behaviours, competencies, attitudes and values (Toutain & Fayolle, 2017) - for the current investigation, the focus remained on attitudes or opinions. An individual can therefore choose to become an entrepreneur or start to think entrepreneurially when they have a positive mindset about entrepreneurship and its potential value (Kouakou et al., 2019). Entrepreneurial mindset is a “teachable cognitive framework that has become necessary for individuals and organisations to adapt and thrive” (ELI, 2021). Mindset can therefore be developed through education (it can be taught), but it is deeply influenced by the individual’s prior beliefs and experiences (Van Tonder & Du Toit, 2020).

Educators' beliefs and values underpin how they approach and implement entrepreneurship education and significantly impact students' entrepreneurial learning (Bell, 2022; Green et al., 2020). Yet, despite its essential contribution to entrepreneurship education, most research focuses only on developing the entrepreneurial mindset of students (Colombelli et al., 2022; Green et al., 2020; Ridley et al., 2017; Tiernan & O’Kelly, 2022) rather than that of entrepreneurship educators'. The current study, therefore, explored ways to bridge this gap.

Research Design and Method

An exploratory case study was conducted using a qualitative research design. The questions guiding the investigation were “What are the perceptions and mindset of lecturers regarding entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education?” and “How do lecturers’ beliefs and mindset regarding entrepreneurship impact their views on facilitating entrepreneurship education?” The phenomenon of entrepreneurship education was explored in one faculty at a South African university, which served as the bounded unit of study for the case study. Case study research is apposite for research guided by descriptive or explanatory questions, including (for example) the extent to which a particular innovation has been implemented in a programme (Mills & Gay, 2019). The purpose of the current case study was descriptive, in line with the stipulation of (Mills & Gay, 2019) that case studies describe phenomena “in depth and in detail, holistically, and in context”.

At the time of the investigation, entrepreneurship education was only presented in a few modules, primarily associated with business studies subjects. The target population included all lecturers in one faculty only, as this faculty intends to significantly expand entrepreneurship education across several of their programmes shortly. This faculty is spread across three campuses in three different towns, and all lecturers were invited to participate in an online survey. An independent and objective observer extended the invitation via e-mail and sent several weekly reminders. An online approach was followed because many lecturers were working from home. All ethical requirements stipulated by the relevant scientific committee, ethics committee, and the Gatekeeper at the university where the research was conducted were adhered to.

A total of 37 useable responses (completed surveys) were received. The survey included twelve questions. The first set of questions aligned to the first research question, relating to participants’ opinions regarding ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘entrepreneurship education’, and its purpose. Subsequent questions explored lecturers’ opinions regarding implementing entrepreneurship education into their existing modules. Some closed questions were included to support clarity of responses, but most questions were open-ended to invite qualitative (descriptive) responses and insights.

Data collected with the Google form were collated in an Excel document and then transferred into Word documents. Two participants responded in their mother tongue, and those answers were translated into English. The Word documents were converted into pdf format for use in Atlas.ti. The researcher analysed data thematically, with Atlas.ti providing scaffolding and organisation of both data and findings during the process. Iterative coding was used to provide insights and develop patterns regarding the phenomenon (entrepreneurship education). The themes used for analysis aligned with the overall purpose of exploring lecturers’ perceptions and mindset regarding entrepreneurship education.

The initial qualitative data analysis focused on exploring what lecturers believe entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education is, as well as their beliefs about the purpose of entrepreneurship education, contributing insights regarding lecturers' entrepreneurial mindset, as most have not taught entrepreneurship education before. Secondly, the data were analysed to understand how the participating lecturers believe they could facilitate entrepreneurship education in their existing modules. In other words, it helped us understand how the lecturers’ beliefs and entrepreneurial mindset may impact their future facilitation of entrepreneurship education.

Findings and Discussion

The findings are described and discussed in alignment with the two main research questions. Appropriate references to relevant literature are included to contribute to the depth of the discussion. Direct quotes of appropriate participant responses are included to elucidate the findings.

Responses were simply numbered in the order in which participants initially submitted them via the Google form to anonymise them.

Lecturers’ entrepreneurial mindset

The first sub-set of questions focused on lecturers’ opinions of what entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education, and the purpose of entrepreneurship education are.

The iterative and combined thematic analyses afforded the following findings:

The first question was “In your opinion, what is 'entrepreneurship'?” followed by “In your opinion, what does 'entrepreneurship education' entail?”

Four main themes were developed from analysing the data for these two questions, but only three emerged in responses for both these questions (Table 1).

Table 1
Lecturers’ Beliefs Regarding Entrepreneurship And Entrepreneurship Education
  What is entrepreneurship What is entrepreneurship education
Business creation and profit-making When a person sets up a business in order to make profit
A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit
The activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
Business starting skill
Starting your own business
Having a business
It is the activity of setting up a business
The ability and desire to establish, administer and succeed in a start-up venture along a business, to develop skills and earn a profit
To teach people how to look for opportunities or to identify opportunities to make a profit
To know more financial risks and profit and how to gain it
To teach a combination of identifying opportunity, start up and running of a business
Knowledge and skills on how to start and manage a new business
It entails teaching or learning how to start and grow a small business
Education of teaching learners/students to ? creates their own wealth and the wealth of others...
Teaching and learning about business, making money, solving problems
Awareness of business practice; exposure to recognise possible business opportunities
(Self-) employment or job-creation To create your own work and income
The ability to establish a sustainable income/business for yourself and others (jobs)
To be able to work for yourself, sell your own product or any products for that matter
The HOW of putting your creative ideas into practice to create a sustainable income
Teaching to become self-reliant and not a job hunter
Teaching learners to be independent and self-reliant
People should not depend on being employees but should strive to be employers in their own right so that they contribute to the economy of the country
Skills and competencies The ability to be curios, critical and creative
The ability, skills and knowledge to engage in and apply creative ideas into workable, profitable ways of making a living or provide others with the ability to do so. To turn ideas into profit
Seeing a problem, generating a solution and receiving remuneration for the solution
Ability to bring about innovation and have leadership qualities
Entrepreneurship education seeks to provide students with the knowledge, skills and motivation to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings
?it entails encouraging students or learners to think critically about the world around them - this would then also entail the encouragement of developing higher cognitive skills and a problem-solving attitude
Providing students/learners with the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills
Equipping students with critical thinking skills, financial education and creative thinking

The most prominent finding indicates that lecturers primarily believe that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education is about business creation and profit-making.

For the first question, most participants included some reference(s) to business or profit-making, a sentiment reiterated by most in the following question – though in combination with teaching or learning terminology (Table 1).

The National University Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Baseline Report included a similar finding: most South African university academics associate entrepreneurship with business (Pivot Global Education, 2020).

It also echoes (Tiernan & O’Kelly’s, 2022), that the belief that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education is mainly associated with business start-up and venture creation “may be engrained in [participants’] understanding”.

The same authors suggested that this implies a need to explore and find ways to develop and foster a more holistic view of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education (Tiernan and O’Kelly, 2022), which is also relevant to the current investigation.

The second theme that emerged was (self-) employment (Table 1). The finding that many lecturers associate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education with engendering (self-) employment or income was unsurprising. Unemployment has been persistently high in South Africa over the past decades. In the first quarter of 2021, 74,7% of young people in South Africa were unemployed (Solidariteit, 2021). In response to these high levels of youth unemployment, several universities in the South African context adopted entrepreneurship programmes in hopes that such programmes would contribute to "the promotion of business formation and self-employment" (Pivot Global Education, 2020). Similar stances have been adopted in other countries, including Nigeria (Otache, 2019), Indonesia (Mukhtar et al., 2021) and Morocco (Benchrifa et al., 2017). Although it must be acknowledged that entrepreneurship education is not the panacea to all unemployment woes, such education can contribute to ameliorating youth unemployment to some extent (Du Toit, 2021).

The third theme was 'skills and competencies' (Table 1) Direct (verbatim) quotes from participants’ responses are included in Table 1. Several participants referred to various skills and competencies as part of what they believe entrepreneurship end entrepreneurship education entails. The skills and competencies lecturers believe to be ingrained in these concepts range from generic 'entrepreneurial skills’ and leadership, to more specific skills such as critical and creative thinking, problem-identification and problem-solving skills, and innovation (Table 1). Often, participants directly linked these skills and competencies to profit-making: see, for example, the responses from Participants 22 and 23 in this regard (Table 1).

Likewise, (Otache, 2019) anticipates that students will use their entrepreneurship knowledge, skills, and competencies to “translate opportunities into viable ventures”. The current finding echoes participant responses in the study of (Neck & Corbett, 2018), who described entrepreneurship education as, for example, “skills and competencies for new venture creation”. Lecturers’ narrow business-oriented view of the value these varied skills could potentially contribute to students' education is probably informed by the high unemployment levels experienced in the South African context. Another possible reason for this view is that most entrepreneurship education in South African universities is reportedly designed and delivered by lecturers from business and management sciences faculties (Pivot Global Education, 2020).

A fourth theme emerged only in responses to the second question. Several lecturers believed that entrepreneurship education includes the teaching or fostering of students’ entrepreneurial mindset or – spirit, as reflected in the following quotes:

1. It entails education and training that has specifically been designed to develop and encourage entrepreneurial spirit and success
2. Education that fosters and develops entrepreneurial mindsets
3. Education of teaching learners/students to think on their own have to have mindset of creating their own wealth and the wealth of others
4. To teach learners/students an entrepreneurial mindset
5. Equipping a learner with an entrepreneurial mindset. In other words, encouraging the skills that encompass entrepreneurial mindset

From these responses, it was inferred that lecturers believe entrepreneurial mindset to be an integral component of entrepreneurship education and that such a mindset can be developed or taught. Their beliefs align with (Otache’s, 2019) statement that students' entrepreneurial mindset must be developed before they can utilise entrepreneurship skills. Similarly, (Neck & Corbett, 2018) reported that entrepreneurship education contributes to students’ entrepreneurial mindset. Lecturers’ opinions in the current investigation align with the reported purpose of many entrepreneurship education programmes at South African universities, that is, to support “entrepreneurial mindset development among students” (Pivot Global Education, 2020).

To determine if participants’ views regarding the purpose of entrepreneurship education aligned with their initial answers, a multiple-choice question was included in the survey, asking, "In your opinion, what is the purpose of entrepreneurship education?” Eight choices were included to contribute to responses' precision and reduce vague or ambiguous answers. These included “To create value for others", "To develop learners' entrepreneurial mindset", or "To reduce youth unemployment” and were developed from the literature review. Participants could choose all options they believed were applicable.

The findings for this question were similar to the initial set of responses, indicating that most participants believe the purpose of entrepreneurship education is mainly related to employment or income generation. South Africa’s high unemployment and poverty influenced their opinions. Several participants also believed that its purpose includes to “develop learners’ entrepreneurial mindset” or "prepare learners with a particular set of skills for a changing world (21st-century skills)”, reaffirming their responses to the previous questions.

Only some participants believed the purpose of entrepreneurship education is to “explore opportunities in various subjects which could be developed as entrepreneurial options”. This reiterates the previous finding in which these lecturers mainly linked entrepreneurship to business and management subjects. The final option – that the purpose of entrepreneurship education is to “create value for others” – was chosen by only 15 participants. This signifies that most lecturers are unaware of the broader value-creation purpose of entrepreneurship education, which is increasingly being reported in the literature (Grigg, 2021; Lackéus, 2015). When lecturers are unaware of the value-creation purpose of entrepreneurship education, this beneficial learning outcome is lost to students.

Considering the findings from the participants’ responses regarding their beliefs about entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education and the purpose of entrepreneurship education, the tentative answer to the question “What are the perceptions and mindset of lecturers regarding entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education?” was: Participating lecturers’ dominating mindset regarding entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education is that the core of these concepts is business creation for profit, with an underlying goal of generating (self-) employment. These lecturers' mindset includes that entrepreneurship education develops students' skills and mindset for entrepreneurship-for-profit, disregarding the broader value-creation purpose of such learning.

The impact of lecturers’ mindset on their facilitation of entrepreneurship education

Subsequent questions explored lecturers’ beliefs regarding embedding entrepreneurship education in their existing modules, using a filter question. The options included ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’. After that, a follow-up question was included, requesting participants to justify their answers.

Most participants responded that ‘yes’, they believed they could embed some entrepreneurship education in their existing modules. This was significant, as lecturers from various subject fields (broader than only business studies) participated in the study. Only three participants believed they could not include entrepreneurship education in their modules. Considering lecturers’ narrow business-oriented entrepreneurial mindset that emerged in the first data sets, this was encouraging. Therefore, lecturers who teach modules with little to do with business or management studies also had a positive mindset regarding entrepreneurship education.

Justifications in the follow-up question revealed that participants believed there is potential to expand entrepreneurship education across various subject fields, mentioning Mathematics, Geography, Business Studies, Languages and Literature modules, Arts, Sciences, and ‘Research’ modules. Several participants mentioned that entrepreneurship knowledge, content or terminology could be interwoven with their existing module content. Others believed that skills development in their modules could be combined with entrepreneurial learning. Participants mentioned skills such as leadership, problem-solving innovation, and self-directed learning. Five participants [Participants 1, 10, 13, 33 and 37] suggested projects as a method for including entrepreneurship education in their modules. Participants’ propositions link well to the ‘where’, ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ entrepreneurship education concepts presented by other scholars (Fayolle & Gailly, 2008; Jones & Matley, 2011; Lackéus, 2015; Sirelkhatim & Gangi, 2015; Otache, 2019). The study’s participants also believed the intended recipients of entrepreneurship education to be students (the ‘who’ in such education), in line with the views of researchers such as (Fayolle & Gailley, 2008; Ghina et al., 2015).

Yet, it also emerged that numerous participants were (becoming) aware of their roles – particularly their shortcomings regarding their preparation for – entrepreneurship education. This was evident from several responses, including the following:

1. I need to know exactly what is meant with "entrepreneurship education" before I can really answer this question
2. We need to study the relevant education theories that are supposed to undergird such programmes… requiring training in Philosophy of education
3. I just need to rethink entrepreneurship education

Finding that these lecturers have a growth mindset – a term often viewed as synonymous with entrepreneurial mindset (Green et al., 2020) – was a highlight of the current study. This finding indicates that, although these lecturers hold a positive entrepreneurial mindset – believing in the benefits of such learning for students and its potential to be applied across various subject fields – they still understand their own need for further training before being able to effectively facilitate entrepreneurship education. Their self-reflection aligns with the recommendations of (Otache, 2019) that entrepreneurship education lecturers should be trained to enable them to teach entrepreneurship education (more) effectively. This finding implies that lecturers are willing to learn and develop their own understanding of entrepreneurship education and how it can contribute to their students' education.

The tentative answer to the second research questions is therefore that, although lecturers seemingly have a narrow business-for-profit mindset regarding the purpose of entrepreneurship education, they still have a growth (can-do) mindset believing in the potential of such education to benefit their students. They are willing to explore ‘where’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ opportunities to embed entrepreneurship education in their existing modules – across various subject fields. Their positive entrepreneurial mindset included self-reflection, indicating that these lecturers viewed themselves as part of the ‘who’ in entrepreneurship education. They understood that they would need professional development to enable them to effectively facilitate entrepreneurship education.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Before universities embark on efforts to expand entrepreneurship education into their existing modules, it is essential to understand lecturers beliefs regarding entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education, and its purpose. Lecturers mostly had a narrow business-for-profit mindset about entrepreneurship education and its purpose, which is highly relevant in the South African context of high unemployment. However, they also had a growth mindset and were willing to explore ways to develop and embed entrepreneurship education into modules of various subjects.

They were self-aware of their need for training to facilitate entrepreneurship education. Being more aware of their own mindset and understanding of entrepreneurship will enable them to construct and facilitate entrepreneurship education more effectively.

Universities that understand lecturers' entrepreneurial mindset and beliefs regarding entrepreneurship will be able to develop focused professional training programmes to build on lecturers' strengths but also to address possible gaps as part of expanding entrepreneurship education at tertiary level.

It is recommended that professional development programmes be constructed to enable university lecturers to effectively facilitate entrepreneurship education. Such programmes should include guidance on ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ aspects of entrepreneurship education, including developing students' and lecturers’ entrepreneurial mindset.

Clarifying the various roles of entrepreneurship education lecturers will strengthen their understanding of and ability to facilitate this beneficial learning more effectively for their students. Future research must explore ways of constructing professional development programmes for university lecturers to strengthen their facilitation of entrepreneurship education.

Contribution of This Research

Understanding lecturers' beliefs and mindset regarding entrepreneurship education before they start teaching it provided insights into areas in which they need additional training. This knowledge will be used to develop purposely designed professional development programmes for lecturers to strengthen their facilitation of this critical learning.

This study contributed to existing research by highlighting the role of the lecturer as part of the ‘who’ in entrepreneurship education frameworks and emphasised the importance of understanding lecturers’ entrepreneurial mindset before they plan and implement this content.


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Received: 26-Sep-2023, Manuscript No. IJE-22-12447; Editor assigned: 28-Sep-2023, PreQC No. IJE-22-12447(PQ); Reviewed: 12-Oct-2023, QC No. IJE-22-12447; Revised: 17-Oct-2023, Manuscript No. IJE-22- 12447(R); Published: 24-Oct-2023

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