Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Ethnographic Evaluation of Entrepreneurship Education in Higher Education: a methodological conceptualisation

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review



  • Sarah Robinson
  • Wesley Shumar, Drexel University Philadelphia, United States
Ethnography is a research method that seeks to gain a detailed understanding of how informants see their world and how they understand the problems that they confront in everyday life. As such it is an ideal method to both study the practices that entrepreneurship educators engage in and the discursive and cognitive shifts that learners go through as they seek a more entrepreneurial understanding. The paper suggests that the flexibility and rigorous nature of ethnography provides an appropriate tool for evaluating entrepreneurship teaching in educational institutions. Entrepreneurship is a practice that has always been of significance to economic development and is increasingly playing an important part in many aspects of 21st century life. While the discourses that surround entrepreneurship have been widely contested they have nevertheless seduced many nation states into searching for new ways to encourage and sustain economic growth. These discourses are evident in policies that use rhetoric about creating more entrepreneurs through explicitly encouraging entrepreneurial behaviour by teaching entrepreneurship to students at all levels of education. The introduction of entrepreneurship education into Higher Education discourses can be traced throughout the western world over the last two decades. Whether talking about starting businesses, often the focus for American universities, or encouraging enterprising behavior, the terms used in the UK and some parts of Europe, entrepreneurship education has, using models from cognitive psychology and social cognition theories from education gradually become established as a discipline in Higher Education. As educational anthropologists we are interested in exploring the parameters of this new discipline. We propose that the nature of this discipline lends itself to ethnography as a method for discussions about how enterprising behaviour is nurtured, supported and evolves into entrepreneurial practices through socially constructed communities. A close look at the practices of entrepreneurship educators in a Danish Higher Education institute stimulated an analysis of what these teachers do and say they are doing in the entrepreneurship classroom.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Management Education
Pages (from-to)422-432
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • Entrepreneurship, Ethnography, Teaching, Methodology, Evaluation

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 82047448