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Title: An exploration of students' entrepreneurial experiences pursuing start-up intentions at university
Author: Woodier-Harris, Naomi
ISNI:       0000 0004 2714 5939
Awarding Body: University of Derby
Current Institution: University of Derby
Date of Award: 2011
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This study focused on exploring students entrepreneurial experiences pursuing business start-up intentions at university. The main aim of the study was to explore students' entrepreneurial intentions and transitions starting a business at university, to inform educationalists and those that support entrepreneurial students in designing future support and interventions. A qualitative approach was taken in this study, with particular reference to Constructivism (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994). A pre and post exploration of students' intentions was designed in the research to explore the context of entrepreneurial students across four universities. A more in-depth look into students' experiences starting a business was conducted with small groups of 3-6 at each university using focus group discussions. Lastly an in-depth unstructured interview was conducted using the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) (Flanagan, 1954; Chell, 1998) to explore `critical incidents' in the students' entrepreneurial experiences starting a business at university; case studies were built from 5 students that had started a business and 5 that hadn't. The results found that students' prior entrepreneurial interests, aspirations and family in business were key motivators towards their desirability to start a business at university. However, upon exploring and generating their ideas and intentions decided against business start-up because of a lack of experience, funding and time. The enterprise funding programme provided the feasibility for students to develop their intentions further and engage in the development of their businesses whilst at university. The enterprise funding programme was an attractive opportunity for those students that initially decided against business start-up and it was found that the practical hands-on learning experience was invaluable. The `critical incidents' that influenced students' decision to start a business were; business idea viable, support from family and friends, practical business training, experience gained, mentor and like-minded students. Those that decided not to start a business indicated that particular non-effective `critical incidents' influencing their decision were; their idea being unviable, personal circumstances, a change of career interests and lack of family support. A model of the transitions of the entrepreneurial students exploring start-up as a career option was presented in the analysis, incorporating the implications to educationalists and those that support entrepreneurial students in designing future support and interventions in the conclusion. The study's contribution to knowledge surrounds an improved understanding of the transitions of students pursuing business start-up and their subsequent career destination through the entrepreneurial transitions model. The use of the CIT method has identified the complexities of students' business start-up experiences and the case studies provide significant contribution. Furthermore, the CIT method highlighted in-depth understanding of the impact of the `learning-by-doing' approach on the enterprise funding programme which was found provided students with the experience and propensity to start a business
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available