Title

Educational Experiences of Habitual Entrepreneurs

Date of Degree

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Francis Musa Boakari

Advisor

Richard Gray

Advisor

Kathleen Mittag

Advisor

Michael Risku

Abstract

This qualitative study investigated the relationship between habitual entrepreneurs and their educational experiences. Through interviews, this researcher explored the roles that formal, informal and nonformal education played in the lives of six habitual entrepreneurs. Structured data analysis and matrices were provided to display the results of the research questions. Emerging themes were discussed and visually displayed using models. Themes of significance in education are highlighted, and recommendations based upon the findings were made to several groups of stakeholders from educators to aspiring entrepreneurs. Overall, formal education did not represent itself largely influential in the realm of entrepreneurial learning. However, it played a vital supporting role in that the habitual entrepreneurs claimed to have gleaned valuable information, experience or skills through their participation in formal education systems. All the research participants reported that informal education experiences were crucial concerning their involvement with entrepreneurship. Further, habitual entrepreneurs described involvement with mentors as being of great consequence. Dialoguing with local community entrepreneurs and watching and emulating entrepreneurial parents exemplified other informal education experiences that were described as significant. The nonformal education experiences of habitual entrepreneurs were cross-disciplinary, transformational and adhered to lifelong learning philosophy. entrepreneurs communicated an appreciation for nonformal education experiences that exposed them to “real life” experiences of other entrepreneurs. The educational experiences that have contributed to habitual entrepreneurs’ decisions to practice entrepreneurship were an outcome of numerous life experiences, little formal education experiences, many informal and nonformal education experiences and specially held philosophies toward learning. Some of the entrepreneurs acknowledged their path to entrepreneurship resulted from a “wake-up call” (i.e. getting laid-off). Others simply stated that they wanted freedom to obtain self-sufficiency, pursue dreams, better society, or practice philanthropic giving of time and resources. Most all the entrepreneurs discussed the importance of learning how to set and share goals, work within groups, learn by doing, and taking responsibility for their own learning. The entrepreneurs also stated the importance of creating a sense of community, learning together by engaging in dialogue, creating ideas, making mistakes and constructing their own realities.

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