oa Journal of Contemporary Management - Attitudes of academics towards mandatory inclusion of entrepreneurship within academic programmes, a South African case-study

Volume 16 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



Youth unemployment, especially among graduates, continues to be widespread nationally and internationally. Minimal research is reported on the role of academics as change agents to drive and instil entrepreneurial spirit among students. This article reports on a survey done in South African institutions of higher education about the attitudes of academics to the inclusion of entrepreneurial programmes as mandatory in an academic setting. The difficult situation in which university staff find themselves currently, balancing the three roles university institutions are expecting of them, namely teacher, researcher, community worker, has an impact on their attitudes to change. With the appropriate didactic approach to entrepreneurship, students’ entrepreneurial orientation is likely to be enhanced. For this article, a mixed method, i.e. in-depth desktop documentary analysis and semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 161 purposively sampled respondents. ANOVAs and post hoc multiple comparison of means tests revealed that gender, education level and age are significant in shaping the interest lecturers have in entrepreneurial programmes for their students. Demographic data of respondents differed significantly in terms of their attitudes towards the importance of entrepreneurial orientation and their abilities to transfer vital entrepreneurial competencies to students. Seventy eight percent of respondents were in favour of a much stronger presence of entrepreneurial emphasis across academic programmes, with 52% in support of it being mandatory. Interactive, problem- and project-based, simulations, and modelling were viewed as the most effective didactical strategies by academics to foster and inculcate entrepreneurial spirit amongst students. This research may be used not only to inform curriculum development policies on didactic approaches to be applied to subjects such as entrepreneurship at the universities, but also help to convert academics into entrepreneurial advocates.

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