Structured Higher Education Can Spur Entrepreneurial Ambitions: NYU Study

By Sadhana Chathurvedula
Mint, New Delhi

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) New research at NYU reveals structured higher ed can inspire students to become entrepreneursAlthough there is some dispute whether entrepreneurship can be taught, especially through online courses, education start-ups like Coursera, which specialize in online courses, say they have seen good results. For women in business who want to explore, there are so many options!


Structured higher education, provided the environment is conducive, can spur entrepreneurial ambitions, according to research by New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The study will be published in the May volume of the The Journal of Higher Education.

While the education system is criticized for not preparing students for solving real-world problems, and lagging industry, with serial entrepreneurs like Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal Holdings Inc., funding students who drop out of college, this study stresses that apart from traits like personality and family history of entrepreneurship, educational practices may play a key role in inculcating an entrepreneurial mindset.

“This study disrupts the position that higher education may not be conducive to fostering innovation by suggesting that both personality and structured higher education experiences contribute to cultivating innovation potential among college students,” said Matthew J. Mayhew, associate professor of higher education at NYU Steinhardt, in a statement announcing the findings of the research. “The good news is that innovative entrepreneurial intentions can be influenced by educators, regardless of the many differences in traits and experiences that students across cultures bring to college campuses.”

The research involved examining different education settings by surveying 375 US business undergraduates, 109 US MBA students, and 210 German students in a five-year business and technology degree in Germany.

The students were surveyed on personality dimensions, including extraversion and openness to new experiences, college experiences (example, challenging learning environments, relationships with faculty, and approaches to problem solving) and their intentions to innovate in an entrepreneurial capacity.

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