Pathways to participation: A comparative study of community college entrepreneurial educational programs in the United States and Ireland

Dobell, D. C. and Ingle, S. A. (2009) Pathways to participation: A comparative study of community college entrepreneurial educational programs in the United States and Ireland. In: Community College Models: Globalization and Higher Education Reform. Springer Netherlands, pp. 481-499. ISBN 9781402094767 (ISBN)


The global economic environment of the last 10 years has been characterized as the age of the entrepreneur. As large corporations continue downsizing, employing fewer people, outsourcing more functions to smaller, more nimble enterprises, the small, entrepreneurial firm has come to dominate the business landscape. In the United States, for example, the majority of the 6.8 million new jobs created from 2003 to 2006 came from small enterprises and this growth is expected to continue (GEM, 2006). Likewise, in Ireland, over 97% of all operating businesses fall into the small business category. Beyond the United States and Europe, the positive influence of international markets, new opportunities and better business environments are promoting the creation of new ventures (GEM, 2006, p. 1). Clearly, global economic growth is being driven by the small, entrepreneurial firm, and it is becoming increasingly evident that entrepreneurial attitudes and skills must be identified and nurtured for sustained economic development Kuratko (2003) suggests that entrepreneurial firms are the essential mechanism by which millions enter the economic and social mainstream (p. 5), and community colleges both in the United States and abroad have begun to play an important role by developing educational programs geared toward students of entrepreneur-ship not traditionally served by the 4-year institution. As such, the community college prototype with its tradition of open access, local orientation, and low cost has become an alternative pathway to economic participation for a large population of students. Community college entrepreneurship educational programs can prepare the individual for new venture start-up by developing the skills necessary to increase the effectiveness and long-term stability of the enterprise (Gorman et al., 1997). Beyond traditional business skills development, the community college entrepreneurship program can expose the student to economic opportunities present in the local environment. Finally, the educational process can enhance entrepreneurial development through the provision of role models, the expansion and strengthening of personal networks, and through temporary apprenticeship placements (Gorman et al., 1997, p. 57) © 2009 Springer Netherlands.

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