Inspiration, self-awareness and entrepreneurial intentions: A mixed-method case study of postgraduate engineering students in the UAE
Ewijk, Anne Van
Aomar, Raid Al
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This exploratory pilot case study consists of a cohort of engineering students following an intensive entrepreneurship course in the United Arab Emirates. In the UAE, entrepreneurship is considered by the government to be one of the main means to transform the oil-based economy into a knowledge-based economy. However, research on entrepreneurship education in this country is still extremely rare. The paper proposes an innovative theoretical perspective on entrepreneurship education; investigating how entrepreneurship education works through possible relations between entrepreneurial intentions, self-awareness and inspiration. The study shows that the impact of entrepreneurship education has to be analyzed on the individual student level. On that level, almost all hypotheses were tentatively confirmed. Most noticeable was that the impact of entrepreneurship education appeared to be heavily influenced by gender as intermediating variable. Other new insights pointed to the potential importance of the duration of the course and specific course content related to self-awareness. Limitations of the study were that all hypotheses still need to be tested on a larger scale and the quality of data would likely improve when respondents receive more prior explanation of the concepts of self-awareness and inspiration. To test these new hypotheses and build additional hypotheses, the paper outlines a mixed method design. Quantitative and qualitative methods are combined to optimize within-study triangulation. It includes a longitudinal pre-post student survey with closed and open-ended questions as well as interviews with the instructors. To comply with the scientific criteria for non-parametric (small sample) data analysis, quantitative data is subjected to qualitative screening (making use of reversed scored statements) to ensure valid results. This is a high quality research feature that is very rare in the field of entrepreneurship education.