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The university as an entrepreneurial learning space: The role of socialized learning in developing entrepreneurial competence

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explores the influence of socialization upon the constitution and integration of learning leading to the development of entrepreneurial competence while at university, from the learner perspective. Self-reported learning is analyzed to illustrate ways in which students make use of institutional and social contributions of the university context. Design/methodology/approach: The study investigates entrepreneurial journeys of 18 participants, either currently attending or recently graduated from three universities in three countries with both comparable and distinctive contextual elements. In depth analysis of individual life stories, focusing on self-identified critical incidents, is used to illustrate ways in which students, while at university, develop entrepreneurial competence for current and future practice. Findings: Formal and non-formal learning remain important foundations for entrepreneurial competence development, delivered through designed content-centric structures. Informal learning – particularly mentor supported socialised learning – centring around the learner is key to solidifying learning towards entrepreneurial competence, through know-how and access to resources. The university emerges as an entrepreneurial learning space where students constitute and integrate learning gained through different forms. Research limitations/implications: Cross-cultural analysis is limited as the paper emphasizes the individual’s learning experience relative to the immediate university context. Practical implications: Universities play a critical role as entrepreneurial learning spaces beyond formal and non-formal learning. This includes dedicating resources to orchestrate informal learning opportunities and enabling interaction with the different agents that contribute to socialised situated learning, supporting entrepreneurial competence development. Universities need to take responsibility for facilitating the entirety of learning. Originality/value: Socialised learning in combination with other forms of learning contributes to student development of entrepreneurial competence while situated in the university context.




Williams Middleton, K., Padilla-Meléndez, A., Lockett, N., Quesada-Pallarès, C., & Jack, S. (2020). The university as an entrepreneurial learning space: The role of socialized learning in developing entrepreneurial competence. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 26(5), 887–909.

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