Explaining the entrepreneurial mindset
The skills needed to thrive in an uncertain future fall under the term ‘entrepreneurial mindset.’ Darsel Keane says there’s little clarity about what an entrepreneurial mindset actually is. The phrase ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ has exploded in popularity over recent years but we’re yet to land on a cohesive definition of the term, according to research spearheaded […]
The skills needed to thrive in an uncertain future fall under the term ‘entrepreneurial mindset.’ Darsel Keane says there’s little clarity about what an entrepreneurial mindset actually is.
The phrase ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ has exploded in popularity over recent years but we’re yet to land on a cohesive definition of the term, according to research spearheaded by University of Auckland doctoral candidate and director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Darsel Keane.
Last month, Keane, who’s in the early stages of developing a tool to measure the outcomes of entrepreneurial thinking, shared the findings of her project exploring the definitions and uses of the term at a conference in Denmark, a country that’s embracing entrepreneurship education.
“They teach entrepreneurship from ABCs through to PhDs and have national frameworks around incorporating this kind of learning into their education system.”
Now more than ever, says Keane, teaching and understanding the benefits of entrepreneurship education is vital.
“Consider a scenario in which all of a sudden a 40-year-old is out of a job because artificial intelligence can do it faster; how are we helping them develop a set of capabilities that they can take into different environments and transfer across industries? This is one area where we can see value in developing entrepreneurial mindsets, but there’s a lack of cohesion in the literature about what an entrepreneurial mindset actually is.”
The lack of a clear definition hinders our understanding of entrepreneurship’s crucial role in driving innovation and success, says Keane. As a first step toward clarifying the entrepreneurial mindset, Keane and her co-authors reviewed 471 academic papers, the oldest dating back to 1989. For each publication, they analysed the many definitions, constructions and dimensions of an entrepreneurial mindset and categorised them into four themes: cognition, competence, personality, and predisposition.
The researcher says the review demonstrates that while the term entrepreneurial mindset is widely used, and that its use has accelerated since 2010, there’s considerable diversity in its definition and construction. “People should be mindful of this. Otherwise, we risk the term continuing to be used superficially rather than developing into a strong idea that explains differences in entrepreneurial activity and outcomes.”
Keane says uniformly defining entrepreneurial mindset will have far-reaching benefits. “It will allow us to be clear on what we are educating for, writing policy for, employing and building capability for, and investing in. It will also help to develop a tool or system to measure entrepreneurial mindsets.”
Such a tool, she says, will support programme design and provide educators with better instruments to assess the outcomes of such courses and communicate their impacts.
Meanwhile, for policymakers, Keane says a better understanding of the entrepreneurial mindset will help investors and others involved in developing start-ups better understand how entrepreneurial thinking can assist new ventures to grow.
She says a more explicit articulation of an entrepreneurial mindset will also help existing companies, non-profits and government agencies understand how they can hire, build capability and reward for it.