The university as an entrepreneurial learning space: The role of socialized learning in developing entrepreneurial competence
Journal article, 2020

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.



Entrepreneurial education


Karen Williams Middleton

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Antonio Padilla-Melendez

University of Malaga

Nigel Lockett

University of Strathclyde

Carla Quesada-Pallarès

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB)

Sarah Jack

Lancaster University

Stockholm School of Economics

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research

1355-2554 (ISSN)

Vol. 26 5 887-909

Subject Categories

Educational Sciences

Other Social Sciences

Business Administration

Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship



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