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Title: Qualitative Investigation on the Failure Experiences of Entrepreneurial Engineering Students
Entrepreneurial education has been rapidly expanding within universities over the past 15 years with colleges of engineering being amongst the most active participants in embedding entrepreneurship into curricular and cocurricular activities (Pittaway & Cope, 2007). Well-developed and theoretically grounded educational interventions have been shown to increase entrepreneurial skills and perception among students. (Pittaway & Cope, 2007; Matlay & Caray, 2007; Duval-Couetil & Wheadon, 2013; Duval-Couetil & Rheed-Roads, 2012). Organizations including the National Science Foundation through the Lean Launch Curriculum and I-Corps program, VentureWell through curriculum development grants and their E-Team program, and the Kern Family Foundation through the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN) have provided significant funding to embed and transform entrepreneurial teaching and practice into colleges of engineering (Matthew et al., 2017; Pistrui, Blessing & Mekemson, 2008; Smith et al. 2017). This activity combines with an added emphasis among engineering programs to develop an entrepreneurial mindset among their engineering students with the belief that this will lead to them being more productive and innovative whether their career path leads them into established industry (becoming “intrapreneurs”) or later as entrepreneurs. While this trend toward developing more entrepreneurially minded engineering students is supported by global economic trends and a rapidly changing work more » environment, one factor has been largely overlooked in this process. Statistically, most entrepreneurial ventures fail, with disproportionately large value being created from a minority of entrepreneurial endeavors (Coats, 2019). Given this fact, until we find ways to drastically increase the success rate of entrepreneurial ventures, as we increase engineering students’ exposure to entrepreneurship, we are also increasing their exposure to failure very early in their careers. With this exposure, it is unknown whether sufficient preparation and education around project/venture failure is occurring to properly equip entrepreneurially minded engineering students to learn and grow from entrepreneurial failure. In this work in progress study, current and former engineering students who formed entrepreneurial ventures and experienced either failure of the venture or significant failure during the venture are interviewed to better understand the influences that led to both adaptive and maladaptive responses to these failures. Participants have been selected from those that have received funding through the national VentureWell E-Team program. This program awards three levels of funding and provides mentorship, training, and networking for the teams. The study uses the framework developed by Henry, Shorter, Charkoudian, Heemstra, and Corwin (2018) in which they associate pre-failure dispositions related to fixed and growth mindset (Dweck, 2000, 2006) and mastery vs. performance disposition (Pintrich, 2000 a, b). Our work will utilize this framework to guide the research, but more importantly will provide a unique context for analysis, specifically within engineering entrepreneurship, which will add to the body of work and expand the understanding of this pre-failure/post-failure disposition framework. Initial interview data and analysis will be presented in the context of this framework with preliminary insights to be shared with those in the field. « less
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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access
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National Science Foundation
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