ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION IN MALAYSIA

By CHENG Ming Yu and Cheryl CHAN Multimedia University, Malaysia mycheng@mmu.edu.my; mychengmy@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT
The emergence of new business models as a result of the growth of the knowledge-based economy have brought to the rise of the entrepreneurship atmosphere among the younger generation, particularly the university graduates. For many years ago, it was strongly believed that entrepreneurs need no formal education. A successful entrepreneur is someone who works hard and has accumulated substantial experiences in relevant activity. The traditional entrepreneur usually starts from small business and small capital, involves in traditional business with low value-added and it takes him to struggle for many years to build up his career. Today, as evidenced by successful entrepreneurs at United States, especially from those in the Silicon Valley involving in high tech, high growth and high value-added activities, a new bleed of entrepreneurs with strong academic background, particularly those who know how to take advantage of Internet and other information communication technologies (ICTs) is required. Therefore, the growing concern is how should the education institutions, particularly the tertiary education institutions, impart essential entrepreneurial knowledge in the syllabus to equip future entrepreneurs with the necessary skills – the so called “entrepreneurship education”. This paper looks at the entrepreneurship education in Malaysia as the Malaysian government has taken great effort to transform the economy into the knowledge-based economy. In this regard, “entrepreneur” has been identified as one of the key elements to the development of the knowledge economy. Thus, this paper attempts to study the development of entrepreneurship education in Malaysia and to investigate the effectiveness of the entrepreneur education in Malaysia. To achieve the objectives of the study, primary data are collected. In order to examine the development of entrepreneurship education in Malaysia, interviews with students are conducted to collect students’ feedback on the effectiveness of the entrepreneurship teaching, to reveal their knowledge about entrepreneurship, their willingness to start up their own business, and factors influencing their decision to be entrepreneurs.

short courses and training on entrepreneurship are common activities organised by various organisations. Entrepreneurship is one of the key elements discussed in the Master Plan.INTRODUCTION Since the time of Plato. even if they are not students from business or management faculties. entrepreneurship is offered in almost all universities in Malaysia. it is one of the subjects offered for Bachelor of Business Administration programme. The dynamism of the new economy creates enormous business opportunities that necessitate people to engage in innovative enterprising activity to grasp the opportunities at the right time and using the right way. Conferences. 2) to enhance students knowledge and understanding on the role of entrepreneurship in the new business world. the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS). especially the cyber world. in University of Malaya (UM). and in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Following the global transformation. has been made a compulsory subject for all students in Multimedia University. entrepreneurship is offered by the Department of Business Strategy and Policy. It has been said that without entrepreneurs. to produce new knowledge and to transfer knowledge. efforts have been taken to nurture entrepreneurship in all ways. death of distance. education is important for two basic purposes. in the new economy. entrepreneurship education has been actively implemented in many countries. which has identified seven critical areas and 136 recommendations to lead the economy in propelling toward the knowledge-based economy. are some of the prevailing characteristics of the current economy. In September 2002. In addition. seminars. i. In fact. The new economy is experiencing a fundamental transformation. how many . In Univerisiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The related issues are: despite all the efforts taken. Realising the importance of entrepreneurs in the development of the knowledge-based economy in Malaysia. The burgeoning of the entrepreneurship education since mid-1990s could be a result of the growing of the newly emerging knowledge-based economy. which is to contribute to the development of entrepreneurial talent among young graduates. entrepreneurship is a core subject in most of the higher education institutions in Malaysia. However. 2001). globally inter-linked. in Multimedia University (MMU). are entrusted with a new additional task.e. For instance. there is no knowledge economy (V. along with the formal entrepreneurship education offered by higher education institutions. a programme in Bachelor of Multimedia (Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship) has been introduced and entrepreneurship is a core course for the programme. Sivapalan. creativity. particularly higher education institutions. including Malaysia. Many universities and higher education institutions in Malaysia have recently introduced courses related to entrepreneurship or majors in entrepreneurship. At the MBA level. constantly innovating. Rapid changes. which is also a knowledge-based economy. life long learning. which are: 1) to develop students interest to become entrepreneurs. small enterprises and co-opetition. released the Knowledgebased Economy Master Plan. Malaysia. flexibility and responsiveness. regardless of their majors. Malaysia has made its effort to transform the economy from a production-based economy to the knowledge-based economy. the subject “Introduction to Cyberpreneurship”. Nowadays. besides MMU. Information Technology and Entrepreneurship is a compulsory subject in Bachelor of Science in Information Technology programme. education institutions. The purpose of introducing the cyberpreneurship subject are twofold.

Hamilton and Harper (1994) define an entrepreneur as a person who bears certain risks in order to take advantage of an invention while for Thompson (1999). Theory of Economic Development (1911). their willingness to start up their own business. in his famous book.graduates are exposed to the entrepreneurship education? What does entrepreneurship education aim to achieve? How to teach entrepreneurship? What types of skill are needed to become a successful entrepreneur? How effective is the entrepreneurship education implemented in the nation? To attempt an answer to the above mentioned questions. life-path experiences and environmental influences. The information collected would serve as essential inputs for universities in Malaysia and in other countries to design a more effective teaching of entrepreneurship. However. are essential factors in determining whether a person could become an entrepreneur. or by exploiting new raw materials. Hence. and sensitivity and willing as well as able to conceptualise ideas and to see change as an opportunity. strengths. Questionnaire consisted of three sections is designed to elicit students’ comment on the effectiveness of the entrepreneurship teaching. all definitions are centring on the fact that an entrepreneur is someone who has unique instinct. and factors influencing their decision to be entrepreneurs. which are essentially not transferable from one to another. or in other words. vision. However. this study has collected feedback from 90 randomly selected undergraduate and MBA students from public and private universities and colleges. mind. inspiration. Joseph Schumpeter. plan. For instance. Based on the discussion presented above. which depends on factors such as personal background and characteristics. many studies that have been conducted recently have conversely showed that entrepreneurship education does play a significant role to cultivating entrepreneurship spirit among graduates. WHAT IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION? What is entrepreneurship education? Before we are able to answer this question. defined an entrepreneur as the person who destroys the existing economic order to create and benefiting from the new structure through a few channels. or by creating new forms of organisation. Is it true? Many people would agree that an entrepreneur is someone who is awarded with gifted quality. In fact. a belief which is prevalent even in today’s society is that there is no way to teach or train someone to become an entrepreneur as entrepreneurs are born to be entrepreneurs. entrepreneur is someone who is able to “smell” a new opportunity and is willing and able to act on it. personal traits. such as by introducing new product and service. Therefore. . it is not possible to teach someone to become an entrepreneur. we have to first of all look at the question on “who is an entrepreneur?” Different authors use different words to define entrepreneur. it seems that basic personality dimensions. to reveal their knowledge about entrepreneurship. there are many expressions used to describe an entrepreneur.

it is shown that as compared to other students. hence. 1999). According to Ibrahim and Soufani (2002). entrepreneurship education is essential in today’s society. those who have taken a major in entrepreneurship have revealed greater interest to become entrepreneurs and these students act more entrepreneurially than other students in taking up the challenge to start up a new business. and entrepreneurial training (Gibb. for the purpose of this study. Entrepreneurship education is more than business management.Based on a study done by Kolvereid and Moen (1997). skills and knowledge. 2001). al (1995) found that 40 percent of those who attended courses in entrepreneurship have started their own businesses. learning to integrate experience. (1982). is crucial to enhance entrepreneurs’ innovation skills in an increasingly challenging environment (Clarke. to certain extent. al. However. it is suggested that although it may not be possible to develop entrepreneurship from education exclusively. there is no one definition available to explain what entrepreneurship education is. for instance through business simulation or role playing. experiential learning (Kolb. Entrepreneurship education needs a different teaching pedagogy. et. the most effective technique is to facilitate experiments by trying entrepreneurship out in a controlled environment. such as industrial training. Menzies and Paradi. the most effective way to operationalise the objective is to provide information through public channels such as media. it is about “learning”. entrepreneurship education is different than “traditional” management studies as the traditional management education may impede the development of the necessary entrepreneurial quality and skills. 1999). education does have an effect to alter and contribute to the formation of entrepreneurship. depending on the objectives of such education. 2001). Upton. Other studies have pointed out that entrepreneurship education. et. Previous studies have indicated that despite the fact that many believed that entrepreneurship is born. seminars. Hence. to get prepare to start with a new venture. If the objective of the education is to increase the understanding of what entrepreneurship is about. school and education system play a critical role in identifying and shaping entrepreneurial traits. If the objective is to equip individuals with entrepreneurial skills which are applicable directly to work. In another study done earlier by Webb. Lastly. the best way is to provide education and training that enable individuals to involve directly in the entrepreneurial process. action-learning (Smith. According to Kirby (2002). there are studies trying to relate entrepreneurship education to work related learning (Dwerryhouse. 1984). or lectures.e. if the objective of the education is to prepare individuals to act as entrepreneurs. Thus. entrepreneurship education refers to the formalised programme to equip students with the needed skills and knowledge to: • • • recognising business opportunities searching customers insights understanding the needs of the market . Entrepreneurship education has always been defined narrowly as education that provides the needed skills to setting up new businesses. i. Thus. especially education that provides technological training. there are ways to train entrepreneurship. Hytti and O’Gorman (2004) begged to be different as they argued that there are many ways to offer entrepreneurship education. However. These methods are effective in terms of sending the relevant information to a broader population in a relative short time period. it is shown that students who participated in entrepreneurship programme were more likely to start their own business than other students. 1990.

such as from work place or from real life examples (for instance. there is a need to revise the curriculum at the higher education institutions and to examine method of teaching in order to disseminate the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills to more students at higher education institutions. 11. only 37. and factors affecting their decision to become an entrepreneur. According to the respondents’ perception. effectiveness of the entrepreneurship teaching in Malaysia.7% said there is no emphasis at all on this particular issue. 44.7% of the respondents have experience of working full time as an employee while 11. 37. Thus. In addition. two public universities and two private colleges in Malaysia. The rest of the respondents (25.2% are MBA students and 25.3% of the respondents think that the emphasis on the teaching of how to start and running a business is still not enough and 16.2% have experience of running own business.8% of the respondents (12. 55. it is expected that this study would provide important pilot information on the issues mentioned above. 46.6% are undergraduate) said they have taken courses on entrepreneurship or related subjects and know what entrepreneurship is. The result indicated that despite the popularity of entrepreneurship education in Malaysia. thus it is impossible to teach a person to become an entrepreneur through formal education.7% are undergraduate) indicated they have not been exposed to knowledge on how to start their own business or how to manage the new venture.8% of the respondents are MBA students while others are undergraduate students. both at the first degree as well as at the MBA level. there are still great deals of students who have not been exposed to the entrepreneurship education. A total of 90 respondents are randomly selected from one private university. .9% have obtained the knowledge from a module in a programme while 44. institutional and political issues FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS Based on the data collected. Entrepreneurial Knowledge among Students Even though many universities and colleges in Malaysia have started to offer entrepreneurship as a major or a subject in most programmes since mid-1990s. The finding revealed that the level of entrepreneurial knowledge among students at higher education institutions is still low despite the relative high level of interest in entrepreneurship.4% of the total respondents believed that entrepreneurial talents are born. this study attempts to provide information on the the level of entrepreneurial knowledge among students in Malaysia.1% of them felt that education system in Malaysia places a great deal of emphasis on entrepreneurship while 72.5% are MBA students and 36.• • • • creating an idea developing the business plan running the business evaluating environmental. Among those who have gained substantial knowledge on entrepreneurship.1% gained the knowledge from other sources. Though the sample size is small. family members or friends who are entrepreneurs).

2%).4 14. The least popular method is arranging face to face interview with successful entrepreneurs (5.8 5.2 85. short essays (61.9 41. respondents were also asked to reveal the most important reason for them to consider starting a new business. only entrepreneurship theory is taught.3%). Factors Determining the Entrepreneurship Decision In the survey. it is difficult to judge whether the methods of teaching and learning is effective.3 Methods Case study Writing business plan Role playing Business simulation Video Interaction w ith entrepreneurs 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 % Figure 1: Teaching and Learning Method Which teaching and learning method is the most effective way to teach entrepreneurship? As discussed by Hytti and O’Gorman (2004). 44. As shown in Figure 1.1% said very well and 44. Without knowing what the entrepreneurship education aims to achieve. More than 50% of the respondents said higher earning . 11. Teaching and Learning Methods Group projects Lectures Writing essays 61. different approaches are required to operationlise different educational objectives.9 91. Thus. there is a need for higher education institutions in Malaysia to examine the objectives of offering the entrepreneurship education.2 32.7 11. The major comments include: lecturers are not equipped with the skills to teach the subject.1% said fair.8% of the respondents said the courses on entrepreneurship are excellent. It is followed by lectures (85.8 55.Effectiveness of Entrepreneurship Education in Malaysia Among the respondents who have experienced entrepreneurship education at respective institutions.9%). teaching method not appropriate and the concept of entrepreneurship has been explained in a too abstract manner which is difficult to understand.9%). but no practical implications discussed in lectures. the respondents have revealed that the most popular way of teaching entrepreneurship is by giving group projects to discuss topics related to entrepreneurship (91.8%) and case study (55.

lack of funding is ranked at the top of the list as the most significant perceived obstacle to start a business (38. other qualities include committed (63.9%).9%). 4. 57.4% already in the process of preparing the start-up.2%) and optimistic (58. inspirational (42.4% revealed that they should possess organisation skills.1% wanted to have more freedom and 18. strong networking (51. Prove own capacity .3 66.4 Gain Freedom Family tradition Earn higher income Public reputation Economic independence Frustrated as employee Satisfaction Gain power Motives Figure 2: Motive of Setting Up Own Business In terms of major barrier or obstacle.9% hope that they would be able to create new venture upon completion of study and 33.7% said within 10 years period.potential is the main factor that will drive them to start their own business while 11.3 68.1%) and lack of knowledge on how to start a new business (13. 15.9% said only when they saw a market opportunity.9 66. then they will consider starting their own business.8% said entrepreneurs should know how to work in a team. risk-taker (75.6% of them felt that an entrepreneurs should be someone who is visionary and creative. When asked about their readiness to become an entrepreneur. 75.3%). Motives of Setting Up Own Business 80 70 60 50 43.6%). 11. they would consider to involve in their own business while 16.7 55.6% of the respondents said they have absolutely no intention to start up own business. followed by lack of training (21. they might start up their new business.6 80 73. Based on the feedback provided by respondents regarding the ideal entrepreneurs’ characteristics.3% said within 5 years after graduation.7 % 40 30 20 10 0 20 34.3%). 8. 10% said they are already running a business.1% are considering starting up own business now. Figure 2 illustrates the main reasons for respondents to involve in setting up own business. 74.1%).

Vol 24 (4): pp. in terms of the level of understanding and effectiveness of entrepreneurship education in Malaysia to nurture the necessary entrepreneurship spirit among younger generation in order to achieve the nation’s interest in developing a successful knowledge-based economy. Rather. respondents chose to work for few years before venturing into own business. (1999) “Can We Build Effective Entrepreneurship through Management Development”. Science and Technology Canada. R. Vol 21 (6): pp. (2004) “What is “Enterprise Education”? An Analysis of the Objectives and Methods of Enterprise Education Programmes in Four European Countries”. REFERENCES Clarke. NJ. 421-30 Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia. Barcelona Kolb. 1-21 Hamilton. E. 153-61 Gibb. Education and Training. There is a need to identify the objectives of entrepreneurship education to determine the most effective teaching method. Knowledge-Based Economy Master Plan. 3-18. Vol 43 (3): pp. Prentice-Hall. R. A. T. and Harper. Englewood Cliffs. . Ottawa Dwerryhouse. (2002) “Entrepreneurship Education: Can Business Schools Meet the Challenge?” Paper presented at the RENT Conference. and O’Gorman. Journal of General Management. K (2002) “Entrepreneurship Education and Training in Canada: A Critical Assessment” Education and Training. D. (1990) “Review of the Status and Availability in Canadian Colleges and Universities of Courses or Programs Dealing with the Commercialization and Adoption of Science and Technology”.CONCLUSION The study provides critical preliminary information on entrepreneurship education in Malaysia. B. A. The findings indicated that the level of understanding on “what is entrepreneurship” is still low among the respondents selected in this study. Education and Training. C. (2001) “Real Work in the 16 – 19 Curriculum: AVCE Business and Young Enterprise”. D. D. Vol 44 (8/9): pp. Kuala Lumpur. Vol 46 (1): pp. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Kirby. Hytti. 11-23 Ibrahim. 2002. and Soufani. A. report for Industry. U. (1994) “The Entrepreneur in Theory and Practice”. Journal of Economic Studies. A. T. The study also showed that there is a low level interest among students to become entrepreneurs immediately after graduation.

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