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European Journal of Economics, Finance and Administrative Sciences

ISSN 1450-2887 Issue 14 (2008)

© EuroJournals, Inc. 2008

Entrepreneurship Among Graduates-to-be of

Business/Management Faculties and Economic
Development in Nigeria

Margaret Emalereta Akpomi

Senior Lecturer, Business Education Department
Rivers State University of Science & Technology
Port-Harcourt, Nigeria P.O. Box 3253 Port-Harcourt, Nigeria

Entrepreneurship has become a widely taught subject in universities. The purpose of this
study was to find out if students who are studying for a degree in Business/Management
faculties aspire to start up their own businesses upon graduation. A self-designed
questionnaire was used to obtain data. The sample consisted of 500 final year students
drawn from five business/ management faculties in five universities in the Niger-Delta area
of Nigeria. The random sampling technique was used to select 100 students from each of
the universities. Data collected was analyzed using percentages. The results revealed that
only 12.4% of graduates-to-be aspire to own businesses upon graduation. Among the
reasons given were that there are no take-off funds/sponsorship, inadequate preparation to
face the demands of running businesses and the poor attitude of Nigerians towards
purchasing made-in Nigeria goods. It was recommended that Entrepreneurship Education
be embedded in the curriculum for Higher Education Institutions and made open for
students from all disciplines to take it as an optional course. The delivery system should be
such that students are made to produce a business plan while undertaking the course and
feasible ones be sponsored by existing entrepreneurs or successful business or agencies or
bodies of government or non-governmental organizations responsible for such activities.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship Education, Graduates-to-be,

Business/Management faculties, Economic development, Nigeria.

During the past decade, entrepreneurship has become a widely taught subject in universities. Many
business faculties offer majors in entrepreneurship along with majors in more traditional areas such as
finance, Accounting, Marketing, Management and Business Education.
Entrepreneurship is all about changes (Wilken, 2005), categorized into five key types of
changes usually initiated by the entrepreneur. They are initial expansion, subsequent expansion, factor
innovation, production innovations and market innovations. For the Austrian economist who assigned
the term “entrepreneurship”, the whole process of economic change hung ultimately on the person who
makes it happen – the entrepreneur. The economic change is most desirable at this time in Nigeria,
when unemployment is very high. The education sector has to wake up to make entrepreneurs out of
the system. In fact, as far back as 1985, during his inaugural lecture, Professor Gibb focused on the
53 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
process of learning in universities and requested that attempts be made to move education towards a
more entrepreneurial focus to better fulfill its wider objectives as well as helping graduates to cope
better with entrepreneurship in practice (Gibb, 1985).
The problem, however with the education sector of Nigeria and other developing countries have
become so serious that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) concluded that the aims of various governments to combat poverty through the
establishment and creation of poverty reduction programmes have failed because graduates of the
education system lack the practical skills (Aina, 2006). These practical skills can be acquired through
Entrepreneurship Education Programme (EEP). Entrepreneurship Education (EE) is valuable to all
students, including those who are taking courses other than business and management (Smith, Collins
& Hannon; 2006). In their study, students were drawn from fine arts, computing and engineering
degree programmes.
There have been hues and cries about unemployment in Nigeria. So many graduates roam the
streets jobless, sometimes going into crime and becoming political thugs (Akpomi, 2008). If students
acquire the right entrepreneurial skills, attitude and knowledge, they will on graduation be self-
employed and employers of labour. Then the serious problem of unemployment in Nigeria may well be
a thing of the past. Nigeria will then gradually move from a consumer nation to a producer nation.
This study aims at finding out if students who are studying for a degree in
Business/Management faculties aspire to start up their own businesses upon graduation and an attempt
has been made to answer the question “To what extent do would-be graduates from
business/management schools aspire to start up businesses of their own upon graduation?”

Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship education – concept and objectives

The term entrepreneur is synonymous with independent business activity. The title of an entrepreneur
is transient and applied to a state of behaviour rather than the ownership of a particular business. The
traditional image of an entrepreneur setting up a small local business has been replaced by a plethora of
images, entrepreneurial activity is no longer confined to the private sector economy, social
entrepreneurs set up organisations with strong ethical or community approach without necessarily
generating huge profits. Intrapreneurship is associated with entrepreneurship. The former being applied
to individuals often employed in large organisations, who act in an enterprising, innovative, risk-taking
manner. According to Shailer (1994), the entrepreneur, now a widely used term has considerable
diverse meaning associated with the intended interest of the users. Ownership of business does not
necessarily fit any of the current popular definitions of 'entrepreneur'.
One of the popular and a very simple definition given by Falkang & Alberti (2000) is that
entrepreneurs are people with entrepreneurial spirit. People with entrepreneurial spirit are likely to
have knowledge and skills requirements unique and different from other kinds of entrepreneurial types,
that is, potential entrepreneurs, managers of entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurial sympathizers.
Entrepreneurs learn in the real world through "adaptive" learning (Gibb, 1995). They are action
oriented and much of their learning is experientially based (Rae & Carswel, 2000). They also learn by
doing which encompasses activities like trial and error as well as problem solving and discovery
(Deakins & Freel, 1998; Young & Sexton, 1997). For Smilor (1997, p.344) learning is not an optional
extra, but is central to the entrepreneurial process:
Effective entrepreneurs are exceptional learners. They learn from everything. They learn
from customers, suppliers, and especially competitors. They learn from experience. They
learn by doing. They learn from what works, and more importantly, from what doesn't
Historically, entrepreneurial behaviour long predates its description as such. The term
‘enterpriser’ can be found in English usage as far back as the 15th century, referring to the prime
movers of political and military as well as economic projects. It is clear that for as long as markets –
54 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
the locus where the human need to engage in trading activity is fulfilled have existed, traders have
sought to maximize profits with them.
Entrepreneurial behaviour can be traced historically from ancient times, through military
conquest, through geographical exploration and the development of new trading routes; through the
discovery and exploitation of new technological processes; and through the development and
exploitation of specialist knowledge (Rae, 1999). These were processes of human endeavour, of
actions through which desired ends such as power, social acceptance and wealth could be achieved. In
an historical context, entrepreneurial activity should not, therefore, be characterised as recent,
exceptional, or related to particular types or groups of people, but rather be seen as normal,
fundamental and continuing aspect of human social conduct throughout history.
Entrepreneurs were in the early times classified according to two different types from work by
Smith (1967) as 'craftsmen' and opportunistic'. Craftsmen were described as individuals with manual
skills and lower levels of education. Their motivation to start up the business was to generate a stable
income to sustain their family. Opportunists however are individuals who had better skills based
(including higher levels of education). These individuals were more likely to be leaders and seek out
ways to grow the business. Defining and clarifying what constitutes an entrepreneur can be
challenging, often because entrepreneurs vary widely in their motivations, skills and approaches to
business. One thing is certain - the field of entrepreneurship is immensely diversified.
Entrepreneurship as a process includes:
• Pursuit of opportunity
• Rapid commitment and change
• Multistage decision making
• Using other peoples' resources
• Managing through networks and relationships
• Compensating for value created.
Entrepreneurship has to do with the characteristics individuals display in working to achieve
goals. Enterprising characteristics displayed by entrepreneurs occur when an individual establishes
own business. Those who display the same characteristics while under the employment of another are
described as ‘intrapreneurs’. Different types of entrepreneurs include:
(a) Nascent entrepreneurs – those who think about business
(b) Novice entrepreneurs – the first timers
(c) Serial entrepreneurs – those who establish several businesses in sequence
(d) Habitual entrepreneurs – several business in parallel
(e) Entrepreneurial managers – have characteristics of entrepreneurs but is an employee
(f) Intrapreneurs – those who display entrepreneurial characteristics whilst working in an
Extensive work has been done by authors of entrepreneurship (Schumpeter, 1947; McClelland,
1961; McClelland & Winter, 1969; McGrath, MacMillan & Scheinberg, 1992) to pinpoint the exact
characteristics of the entrepreneur but there is no rigid recipe. Some of the key attributes put together,
however are:
(i) Risk-taking propensity
(ii) Need for Achievement (nAch)
(iii) Locus of control
(iv) Over-optimism
(v) Desire for autonomy
According to economic thinking, risk-taking is one of the most important roles for an
entrepreneur. Studies have found that entrepreneurs are not attracted to bearing risk when compared to
others (Brockhaus, 1980), however they are willing to bear greater degree of tolerance. Tolerance
allows entrepreneurial individuals to react to ambiguity and uncertainty with a positive reaction
seeking out challenges and even opportunities in such circumstances (Schere, 1982). Risk-taking is
55 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
largely dependent on the situation the entrepreneur faces (Meller, Schwartz & Cooke (1998) or where
individuals feel they have expertise in a specific field.
Need for Achievement (nAch) (McClelland, 1961; McClelland & Winter, 1969) is closely
related to risk-taking as it incorporates perceived risk of a situation along with perceived levels of
confidence. Entrepreneurs are described as individuals who have a high need for achievement.
Locus of control describes how individuals view failure or success. If an individual feels the
goals of an event are almost completely dependent on behaviour, that individual is said to have internal
locus of control. If however an individual believes external factors override internal factors, that
individual is said to have a high external locus of control. Weiner (1992) describes locus of control as
one determinant of the expectancy of success. Research on locus of control and entrepreneurial
behaviour has found low correlation between these factors, furthermore studies in the field of
psychology have criticized using locus of control as a form of measurement for entrepreneurial
Over-optimism is somewhat similar to locus of control as both are related to expectancy of
success. Researchers find entrepreneurs are more optimistic when forecasting business success
(Cooper, Dunkelberg & Woo, 1996; Egge, 1978).
Desire for autonomy is very important to entrepreneurs as this goes hand in hand with a fear of
external control. Entrepreneurs reject authority and strict regimes. Individualism and freedom are both
very highly valued traits (McGrath, MacMillan & Scheinberg, 1992).
Timmons (1999) also studied numerous entrepreneurs and found that the successful ones shared
common attitudes and behaviours which are:
• Work hard, driven by intense commitment and determined perseverance
• Optimistic outlook
• Strive for integrity
• Burn with the competitive desire to excel and win
• Dissatisfied with the status quo and seek opportunities to improve almost any situation
• Use failure as a tool for learning
• Eschew perfection in favour of effectiveness
• Believe that they personally can make a difference.
In his view, entrepreneurs who succeed possess not only creative innovative flair but also have
solid general management skills and behaviours. He came up with a figure of the relationship between
creativity and managerial skills

Figure 1: The relationship between creativity and managerial skills

Source: Timmons, J. (1999). New venture creation: entrepreneurship for the 21st century 5th Ed. P.46.
56 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
Researchers believe that entrepreneurs succeed by thinking and doing new things or old things
in new ways. Both innovation and job creation involve the creation of new organizations with
interdependent activities carried out by several people to accomplish a goal. Through innovation,
entrepreneurs create new organizations in our economy, our political process and our educational
process and generate economic, cultural, social and political variety. In doing so, they also precede and
create the context for management. In other words, they develop organizations that are subsequently in
need of strategy, structure, performance and above all, change. In fact, it is not just having a new idea
but making sure something happens.
Entrepreneurship in turn, is the result of a disciplined, systematic process of applying creativity
and innovation to the needs and opportunities in the market place (Agitavi Research and Microsoft
EMEA, 2007). It involves applying focused strategies to new ideas and new insights to create a product
or service that satisfies customers’ needs or solves their problems. It is much more than random,
disjointed tinkering with a new gadget. A lot of people come up with creative ideas for new or different
products and services but most of them never do anything with them. Entrepreneurs are those who
marry their creative ideas with the purposeful action and structure of a business. As figure 2 illustrates,
successful entrepreneurs are associated with a constant process that relies on creativity, innovation and
application of that innovation in the market place.

Figure 2: Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship

Thinking new things

Doing new thing

Creating value in the market place
Source: Agitavi Research and Microsoft EMEA, 2007). P.38

Entrepreneurs must always be on guard against traditional assumptions and perspectives about
how things ought to be. Such assumptions are quick killers of creativity. Such self-imposed mental
constraints and other paradigms that people tend to build over time damage creative minds. A
paradigm is a preconceived idea of what the world is, what it should be like, and how it should operate.
Sometimes, these ideas become so deeply rooted in our minds that they become immovable blocks to
creative thinking, even though they may be outdated, obsolete and no longer relevant. These blocks can
act as logjams to creativity.

Entrepreneurship in Business/Management Faculties

Entrepreneurship as a course bears different codes depending on the institution and levels of students
offering the course. It is taught to undergraduate and graduates students in the management and
business faculties/departments. Generally the contents of EEP, at whatever level it is taught include
some or all of the following topics:
• The emergence of and theories of entrepreneurship
• The entrepreneurial personality
57 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
• The development of the entrepreneur
• Entrepreneurial frontiers and opportunity
• Success and failure factors
• Creating the venture – Venture idea generation and evaluation
• Financing entrepreneurial opportunity
• The business plan
• Enterprise formation
• Organising the venture
• Production management for the entrepreneur
• Marketing strategy for entrepreneurship
• Accounting control for entrepreneurship.
The difference being degree of the body of knowledge imparted and activities, which are
determined by level of students.

Delivery System
At the beginning of the semester, usually the first day of lectures, the course lecturer hands down the
course outline (breakdown of topics) to the students, either through dictation or as found in the
lecturer’s textbook for the course. These course outlines are listed topics, sometimes without expansion
or some explanatory notes. Lessons are delivered through the lecture method, going through the course
outline, topic by topic until all topics are taught or semester ends. Students are expected to purchase
textbooks (in many cases, written by the lecturer) as reading materials for the course. The studious
ones complement by buying other textbooks in the subject area or visiting the libraries.

The general method of assessing students, as with most other courses, is examination at the end of the
semester. Students are usually given quizzes, tests and assignments during the semester. One of the
assignments usually is to write a business plan, which along with other assignments, tests and quizzes
are scored – all of these carry 30 marks while the examination carries 70 marks, totaling 100. The
course lecturer single handedly scores the students and gives grades at the end of the semester.

The design adopted for the study was a descriptive survey. The sample consisted of 500 final year
students drawn from five business faculties in five universities in the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria. The
random sampling technique was used to select 100 students from each of the universities. A self-
designed questionnaire was used to obtain data. The instrument was subjected to face and content
validity as well as reliability test which gave a co-efficient of stability of 0.89. The instrument was
administered to the respondents through the assistance of 4 colleagues in each of the other four
institutions as the researcher administered the one in her institution herself. The only research question
was answered after analysis using percentages.

Data Analysis
All completed 500 copies of questionnaire were retrieved, collated and analysed. The responses were
grouped into five as shown in the table below and the percentages of the responses were calculated and
are also given below:
58 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
Table 1: Employment expectation of graduates-to-be of business/management

Expectation upon graduating Response in number Percentage response

Had business idea 51 10.2
Seek employment after National Youth Service 366 73.2
Already had a job 10 2
Aspire to be self-employed 62 12.4
Depending of fate 11 2.2
Total 500 100
Survey data 2008

Of the 500 graduates-to-be, 51 (10.2%) were able to develop business ideas in the course of
their training and were ready to create products and services from their ideas if sponsored. A staggering
percentage of 73.2 (366 out of 500) were expecting to queue for jobs in public and private sectors of
the economy after completing the compulsory one year service to the nation. Those who already have
jobs (either as employee-student or have influential parents/guardians in the society who have
promised them jobs) were 2 per cent and only 62 (12.4%) actually aspire to be self-employed upon
graduation. This group of students was determined to own businesses of their own at cost. 2.2 (11
students) were indifferent; they did not have any plans but depend of fate – ‘wherever the wind blows
Those of them who do not aspire to be self-employed gave the following reasons in defence of
the position they maintained:
• no take-off funds/sponsorship
• inadequate preparation to face the demands of running businesses
• poor attitude of Nigerians towards purchasing made-in Nigeria goods.

In his classic book on social anthropology, Childe (1961) coined a phrase “Man makes himself”. The
world is transformed by the decisions and actions of individuals and their institutions. One such
individual, found in small and large businesses alike is the entrepreneur – a person who is typically
characterized by vision, creativity, vitality, confidence to act on new opportunities, adaptability to
altered conditions and most of all, the ability to initiate and implement change through innovation and
implementation (Meredith, Nelson & Neck, 1982). These are the entrepreneurial skills and attitudes
which the graduates-to-be need to acquire during training, which unfortunately, the education system
has not been able to instill in them.
Entrepreneurial skills and attitudes provide benefits to society, even beyond their application to
business activity. Obviously speaking, personal qualities that are relevant to entrepreneurship, such as
creativity and a spirit of initiative, can be useful to everyone, in their working responsibilities and in
their daily existence. Also the relevant technical and business skills need to be provided to those who
choose to be self-employed and/or to start their own venture – or might do so in the future. There is
therefore the need for a policy commitment at governmental, state and local levels to promote the
teaching of entrepreneurship in the education system.
Kerr (1993), an internationally recognized higher education expert from the United States,
threw down a gauntlet of challenge for higher education systems around the world by saying:
For the first time, a really international world of learning, highly competitive, is
emerging. If you want to get into that orbit, you have to do so on merit. You cannot rely
on politics or anything else. You have to give a good deal of autonomy to institutions for
them to be dynamic and move fast in international competition. You have to develop
entrepreneurial leadership to go along with institutional autonomy.
59 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
Inherent in Kerr’s statement is a call for universities to become more flexible and responsive, a
call echoed in the World Bank’s technical paper (2002) on constructing knowledge societies: new
challenges for tertiary education. Historically, the transition to greater economic relevance has been
easier to achieve in the United States (US) than elsewhere because American higher education
institutions have always had to be sensitive and responsive to the changing requirements of industry,
agriculture and business. American universities played a leading role in the early history of computer
hardware, a role heavily financed by the federal government. Worthy of note is the fact that American
universities contributed in generating powerful new computer-based technologies which led directly to
the creation of today’s internet (Hart, 2003). The remarkable degree of openness and accessibility to
the internet and World Wide Web owe a great deal to the singular fact that they were developed
primarily in a university environment. Kenney (1986) affirmed to the fact that many university
scientists have been directly involved in starting up new firms and have served as business decision
makers and strategists. The governments of Nigeria and Nigerian universities need to wake up to the
El-Khawas (2001) distinguished between rigid institutions of higher learning and responsive
institutions. A rigid institution resists making changes in institutional behaviour and often rejects
possible changes without openly considering whether they are feasible or desirable. A responsive
institution, on the other hand, is adaptive in its orientation. It considers changing circumstances with
deliberation, identifies ways to adapt, and takes responsive actions. It is my wish that universities in
Nigeria should be responsive on this issue of teaching entrepreneurship to all students in universities
and not only to graduates-to-be of business and management.
Responsiveness in tertiary teaching and learning has two dimensions: curricula and pedagogy,
that is, content and method. In today’s global competitive knowledge economy, updating of curricula
needs to be an almost permanent issue. In fact, university departments need to change their curricula
every 2 or 3 years to ensure that the content of teaching reflects the rapid advance in scientific
knowledge (Clark, 2001). On the side of pedagogy, expanded access and higher participation rates
mean that student populations become increasingly diverse in their academic preparation, means,
capacities, motivation and interests. From a global level, these changes involve a shift in pedagogy
from staff teaching to student learning (El-Khawas, 2001; Salmi, 2001). In Nigeria, the
unproductiveness of graduates on-the-job and the increasing number of unemployed graduates roaming
the streets, looking for white-collar jobs, are enough evidence to suggest a very great need for
innovation in both curricula and pedagogy.
It is evident that the promotion of entrepreneurship in Nigeria is high on the political agenda.
However, the real challenge is to teach Entrepreneurship to all students in universities.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Entrepreneurship ought to be an explicit focus on policy design, choice and implementation. Public
policy and governance can shape virtually all the contextual determinants of the demand for
entrepreneurship and, over a longer time scale, the supply of entrepreneurs as well.
Most HEIs in Nigeria have a business or management department that offers course(s) in
entrepreneurship. Such courses may bear different titles and codes, all centering round
entrepreneurship. The course Entrepreneurship Education should be housed in Business Education
Department or any department of the university that presently offers Entrepreneurship,
Entrepreneurship Education or related course(s). Students from all disciplines should be allowed the
freewill to choose the course. This is because students have a particular expectation about a programme
(Smith, Collins & Hannon, 2006).
The delivery system should be such that students are made to produce a business plan while
undertaking the course and feasible ones be sponsored by existing entrepreneurs or successful business
or agencies or bodies of government or non-governmental organizations responsible for such activities.
60 European Journal of Economics, Finance And Administrative Sciences - Issue 14 (2008)
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