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REDETE - RESEARCHING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN TRANSITION ECONOMIES

EMPIRICAL STUDY OF ASSESSMENT OF ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS,


KNOWLEDGE AND ATTITUDES OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN BOSNIA AND
HERZEGOVINA

Elvira ATI-KAJTAZOVI279,
Amra NUHANOVI280,
Sanita BILANOVI

Abstract

One of the eight key competences defined by European Reference Framework is the Sense of initiative
and entrepreneurship with definition of essential knowledge, skills and attitudes related to this competence.
Also, actualization of entrepreneurship skills, knowledge and attitudes is evident in the creation of strategies,
educational policies, maintenance of conferences and round tables that emphasize the importance of
entrepreneurship as a key competence and entrepreneurship education.
Most of these documents and events have resulted in the conclusion that entrepreneurship is already taught
in kindergarten. In this regard, the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BaH) has joined the mentioned streams
by identifying key competencies and life skills of young people, and by adopting specific learning strategies
about entrepreneurship. At the same time unemployment is especially manifested in BaH, as well as the
growing dissatisfaction of employers on the acquired knowledge and skills of newly employed workers
(especially those who have a degree of higher education).
Therefore, the key issues related to entrepreneurial knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, entrepreneurial
attitudes, entrepreneurial intentions and sense of initiative were part of a questionnaire that was used as the
research tool on a sample of students of Economics, Law, Technical and Biotechnical Faculty at the
University of Bihac, students of Faculty of Economics at the University of Tuzla, and students at the
University of Sarajevo.
The empirical research was aimed to detect whether there is a difference in entrepreneurial knowledge,
skills, intentions and mindset among students considering: different faculties and universities, certain
demographic characteristics, participation in entrepreneurship curricular activities, their engagement in
extracurricular activities and close person dealing with entrepreneurship. In this way an attempt was made
to get answers on which of the above listed factors has the most influence on the entrepreneurial competence
of BaH students.
Contrary to the expected results, entrepreneurial competence of students of economics does not differ
significantly compared to the level of entrepreneurial competencies of students of other faculties.
Accordingly, participation in extracurricular activities has a far greater impact on entrepreneurial
competences than curricular activities.
Aim of this research was also, to reveal the desire of students after graduation when it comes to their future
careers. As expected most students after graduation want to work in the public sector. They do not have
excessive desire to start their own enterprises, and the private sector is seen as "exploiter of labor force". On
the basis of the obtained results some recommendations have been created and presented that should help in
achieving the basic goals of entrepreneurial education.

Keywords: entrepreneurial knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, entrepreneurial attitudes, entrepreneurial


intentions, students.

279
University of Bihac, Faculty of Economics, Pape Ivana Pavla II, No2, 77 000 Bihac, BiH,
elviracatickajtazovic@gmail.com
280
University of Tuzla, Faculty of Economics, Univerzitetska 8, 77500 Tuzla, BiH,
amra.nuhanovic@untz.ba

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1. Introduction

It is commendable that the government of BaH has a special strategy for entrepreneurial
learning. However, regardless of the stated strategy and other key documents, in which it stresses
the importance of entrepreneurial competence and the importance of entrepreneurial education,
economic development of the country and a huge number of unemployed are a sign that the effects
of the above documents are absent, the effects of entrepreneurship education are absent either.281
The dissatisfaction of employers with the level of acquired knowledge and skills of new employees
are in favor of the above statement.

Of course, educational institutions (in this case, particularly universities) have to take some
responsibility for that dissatisfaction. And even the educational institutions must be entrepreneurial
institutions! At a time when "it is only certain that tomorrow is uncertain" in "hurry and rush" time,
a key word emerged it is the word "adjustment". So if "only those who adapt survive"
(Darwinism), the question is: can universities teach "adapting" if they themselves are not able to
adapt? And not only do universities need to successfully respond to the "hurry and rush" time they
should be the creators of such time. Universities need to criticize, create, innovate, encourage,
respond, adapt, and etc. It seems that in BaH universities are not up to the above challenges. And
not only in BaH, " Exactly insufficient preparation of the universities to respond to the needs of the
global competitive society in transition economies and developing countries is highlighted as one of
the main reasons for the marginalization and stagnation in the world economy" (Oberman Peterka,
Singer and Alpeza, 2012, p.280).

As "entrepreneurial education represents a mixture of entrepreneurial learning, development


of skills, and most important, and change in the way of thinking" (Sedlan-Konig, 2012, p.3), it is
difficult to determine what of the mentioned is missing the most in BaH. However, it is easy to
determine what will be the most difficult to achieve. According to the humble opinion of this
author's work, change in the way of thinking is the hardest to achieve, also it is an inseparable part
of the mixture of entrepreneurial learning in BaH. Therefore, this paper represents an attempt to
assess entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and attitudes of university students in BaH.

2. Theoretical background

Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is one of the eight key competences defined by the
European Reference Framework. "Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship refers to an individual's
ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the
ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. This supports individuals, not
only in their everyday lives at home and in society, but also in the workplace in being aware of the
context of their work and being able to seize opportunities, and it is a foundation for more specific
skills and knowledge needed by those establishing or contributing to social or commercial activity.
This should include awareness of ethical values and promote good governance" (European
Reference Framework).

According to the Strategy of entrepreneurship learning in education systems in BaH for the
period 2012-2015, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship represents "a crucial skill that is required
at all levels of education through experiential learning" (Strategy, p.6). As further stated in the
Strategy "Learning about entrepreneurship in formal education should focus on the key knowledge,
skills and attitudes in the context of Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, with particular
reference to the introduction of good practices in the curricula ... " (Strategy, p.14).

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The aim of the new entrepreneurial approach to education is that with the help of new ideas in the field of
entrepreneurship learning significant results can be achieved. Strategy, p.5.

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Although BaH has disastrous data on unemployment, in the other hand there are very
common complaints that employers are not able to find the right workforce. There are frequent
complaints about the level of acquired knowledge and skills of graduates and their lack of initiative,
responsibility and motivation. It is obvious that graduates lack entrepreneurial competence.
Therefore, it is necessary to call on the responsibility of the university.

"The importance of university education is especially great because it directly influences the
productivity and competitiveness of the economy as well as the improvement of the general living
standards" (Bejakovi, 2004 in Sedlan-Konig, 2013, p.58). "Global experience from the most
developed economies and regions has revealed the important role of universities and other higher
education institutions for successful economic expansion" (Additonal and irec, 2011, p.15).
Entrepreneurship and the Role of Universities have been topics on the main agenda since the 1990's
and the EU. The role of universities and their non / adaptation to changes in the environment, are
particular in the current academic circles (Vukovic, Kedmenec, Horvat and Korent, 2011; Oberman
Peterka, Singer and Alpeza, 2012; Dabic, Gonzalez-Loureiro and Daim 2015).

What stands out in most academic papers that deal with this topic is the importance of
entrepreneurial education for the economic development of the country and the importance of
higher education institutions in the process of developing the basic components of entrepreneurial
education, which are: knowledge, skills and attitudes. Taking into account all factors relevant to
entrepreneurial behavior (Krear Miljkovic, 2013), recognizing the importance of entrepreneurial
behavior for economic development and educational institutions in economic development,
universities must take responsibility for this kind of economic situation of the state of BaH.

3. Research Methodology

The survey was conducted using questionnaires ASTEE (ASTEE- Assessment Tools and
Indicators for Entrepreneurship Education -Tertiary Level). After obtaining approval for the use
and additional modification of the questionnaire in BaH, the same was translated into Bosnian and
tested in a pilot study on a sample of 60 students of three public universities. Since the survey
questions relate to "entrepreneurial knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, attitude to entrepreneurship,
entrepreneurial intentions and sense of initiative", a pilot survey has been conducted in order to
assess whether the questions were set clear, unambiguous, or whether they could be understood
properly.

After analysing the results of the pilot survey final modifications of the ASTEE
questionnaires for use in BaH were made.

ASTEE questionnaire consists of 5 headings which make dependent and independent


variables of this research presented in the following table.

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Table 1: Variables of Research


Scale Variables of Research
Faculty
University
Independent
Basic characteristics Participate/ing in entrepreneurship course or
variables
module
Participate/ing in an extra-curricular activity
Entrepreneurial mindset
Mindset Core self-evaluation
Entrepreneurial attitudes
Knowledge Entrepreneurial knowledge
Creativity
Dependent
Financial literacy
variables Entrepreneurial skills
Managing ambiguity
Marshalling of resources
Planning
Innovative employee
Intentions and connectedness to labour market
Entrepreneurial intentions

Based on these variables, following hypotheses have been set:


H1: There is a difference in the entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, intentions and thinking among
students due to the faculties they attend.

H2: There is a difference in the entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, intentions and way of thinking
among students given the different universities.

H3: There is a difference in the entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, intentions and way of thinking
among students due attendance at courses in entrepreneurship, participation in extracurricular
activities that focus on entrepreneurship and close person dealing with entrepreneurship.

A total of 1000 questionnaires have been prepared and distributed. Of the 1,000 distributed, a
total of 397 were returned, which makes the rate of return 39.7%. The validity of the responses was
checked in the first preliminary examination. It was found that of 397 returned questionnaires, 39
were incomplete, so they were excluded from further analysis as invalid questionnaires. The chart
gives an overview of the faculties and universities, on the basis of further statistical processing of
returned questionnaires.

Figure 1: The share of students due to the faculties and universities

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The total sample is composed of two sub-samples. The first sample consists of students from
the faculties of economics of the University of Sarajevo, the University of Tuzla and the University
of Bihac (220 students), while the second sub sample consisted of students of the Law, Technical,
Biotechnical faculty of the University of Bihac and the University of Sarajevo, as well as students
of the Political Sciences faculty of the University of Sarajevo.

Statistical analysis of the collected data was performed using the Statistical Package for Social
Sciences SPSS software version 20th.

4. The survey results


4.1. Correlation analysis

Results of the relation between the dependent and independent variables of this research are
presented in the following table. We should be very careful in explanation of the correlation
analysis, since "The correlation is about connection, not about cause-and-effect relationship
between the variables." (Udovicic, Bazdaric, Bilic - Zulle and Petroveki, 2007, p.13).
Table 2: Values of Pearson correlation coefficient
Independent variables
Dependent
variables Faculty University Self- Entrepreneurship Extra-
employed course or module curricular
activity
Entrepreneurial
0,08 0,34** 0,14** -0,02 -0,09
mindset
Core self-
0,08 0,12* 0,04 0,02 -0,04
evaluation
Entrepreneurial
0,11* 0,22** 0,06 -0,01 -0,00
attitudes
Entrepreneurial
-0,15** 0,22** -0,05 -0,09 -0,10
knowledge
Creativity 0,04 0,21** 0,05 -0,11* -0,21**
Financial
-0,01 0,25** 0,12* -0,15** -0,20**
literacy
Managing
0,05 0,22** 0,14** -0,09 -0,16**
ambiguity
Marshalling of
0,03 0,21** 0,07 -0,01 -0,20**
resources
Planning -0,01 0,23** 0,01 -0,08 -0,24**
Innovative
-0,11* 0,09 -0,04 -0,09 -0,02
employee
Entrepreneurial
-0,16** 0,02 -0,12* -0,09 -0,21**
intentions
** p<0.01; * p<0.05

The table shows that the independent variable University is associated with the the following
dependent variables: Entrepreneurial mindset, core self-evaluation, Entrepreneurial Attitudes,
Entrepreneurial knowledge, Creativity, Financial literacy, Managing ambiguity, Marshalling of
resources and Planning. So of all the independent variables, the strongest associations has the
variable University, then Shares in extra-curricular activity, while the independent variable Faculty
and Entrepreneurship course or modules associates with four dependent variables. Since using the
correlation can not determine cause-and-effect relationship between variables, but only the
correlation between variables, nor it could have been determined whether there are differences
which could approve or reject the proposed hypotheses research, we accessed to the testing of
differences by T-test and ANOVA.

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4.2. Independent samples T-test and ANOVA

4.2.1. Testing difference in the entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, intentions and mindset in
students due to the faculties they attend

In testing the first assumption of this research, the entire sample was taken into account
(students of all faculties and universities that participated in the study), to determine whether there
are differences in the entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge, skills and intentions among students
considering different faculties. ANOVA results are shown in the following table.

Table 3: Differences in the entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge, skills and intentions given the faculties
Scale Dependent variables F p
Entrepreneurial mindset* 5,52 0,00
MINDSET
Core self-evaluation* 7,84 0,00
Entrepreneurial attitudes* 9,77 0,00
KNOWLEDGE
Entrepreneurial knowledge* 9,66 0,00
INTENTIONS AND Innovative employee* 6,90 0,00
CONNECTEDNESS TO LABOUR MARKET
Entrepreneurial intentions* 7,80 0,00
* p<0,05
One-way analysis of variance showed a statistically significant difference (at a significance
level of 0.05) in the entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge and intentions among the surveyed
students considering different faculties. Comparisons using Tukeyevog HSD test showed that the
mean value of groups of students of economics, differ significantly with respect to groups of
students from other faculties only for the following variables: Entrepreneurial mindset, core self-
evaluation and Entrepreneurial attitudes and that only in relation to the law students (while
compared to others there is no statistically significant difference). Other differs are: with the
variable Entrepreneurial knowledge only in relation to the students of the Biotechnical Faculty; with
the variable Innovative employee in relation to students of political science; and the variable
Entrepreneurial intentions in relation to law students and students of political science.

Devastating results are that there is no statistically significant differences in variables


Creativity, Financial literacy, managing ambiguity, Marshalling of Resources and Planning between
students of economics and others.

Finally, it can be concluded that there is a difference in the entrepreneurial knowledge, intent
and thinking among students considering different faculties, while there is no statistically
significant difference in entrepreneurial skills (Creativity, Financial literacy, managing ambiguity,
Marshalling of Resources and Planning) among the surveyed students from different faculties.

4.2.2. Testing difference in the entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, intentions and mindset in
students considering different universities

In testing the second assumption of this research, only the first sub-sample which consists of
students of economics at the University of Sarajevo, University of Tuzla and University of Bihac
has been taken into account. One-way analysis of variance tested differences in entrepreneurial
knowledge, skills, intentions and thinking among students considering different universities. As
shown in the table below, the results of the ANOVA showed a statistically significant difference in
each variable.

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Table 4: Differences in the entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge, skills and intentions of students of
economics given the universities
Scale Dependent variables F p
Entrepreneurial mindset* 19,15 0,00
MINDSET
Core self-evaluation* 9,57 0,00
Entrepreneurial attitudes* 5,46 0,01
ENTREPRENEURIAL
Entrepreneurial knowledge* 8,17 0,00
KNOWLEDGE
Creativity* 10,60 0,00
ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS Financial literacy* 15,30 0,00
Managing ambiguity* 7,32 0,00
Marshalling of resources* 9,10 0,00
Planning* 15,12 0,00
INTENTIONS AND Innovative employee* 4,78 0,01
CONNECTEDNESS TO LABOUR
MARKET Entrepreneurial intentions* 4,60 0,01
* p<0,05
Statistically significant differences and the mean value of the group of students of economics
at the University of Bihac (UNBI), the University of Tuzla (UNTZ) and the University of Sarajevo
(UNSA) are most obvious by means plots, as shown in the figure below.

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Figure 2: Graphical representation of present value in view of the different universities

What is revealed by this research is particularly alarming for teachers at the University of
Bihac. In the most of the tested variables it is noticeable that the least achieved mean values are
exactly among students of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Bihac.

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4.2.3. Testing difference: attendance in entrepreneurship course or module, in extracurricular


activities and existence of a close person who is self-employed

Independent samples t-test has been used in testing the differences in entrepreneurial
knowledge, skills, intentions and thinking among students due to attendance in entrepreneurship
courses. T-test revealed a difference only in the following variables: Creativity and Financial
literacy. No difference due to attending courses/ modules in entrepreneurship was revealed in the
variables: Entrepreneurial mind set, Core self-evaluation, Entrepreneurial attitudes, Entrepreneurial
knowledge, Managing ambiguity, Marshalling of resources, Planning, Innovative employee and
Entrepreneurial Intentions. As we can see in the table below, the mean values are higher among
students who have attended entrepreneurship course or module, compared to students who do not or
have not attended.

Table 5: Significant differences due to participate/ing in entrepreneurship course or module


Entrepreneurship M t Df p
Dependent variables course or module?
Yes 4,68 2,13 351 0,03
Creativity No 4,46
Yes 4,21 2,90 351 0,01
Financial literacy
No 3,80

The independent samples t-test has been used in testing the differences in entrepreneurial
knowledge, skills, intentions and mindset with regard to the participation of students in
extracurricular activities that focus on entrepreneurship. Results of this test (shown in the table)
revealed that there is a statistically significant difference in mean values between students who
participated and those who did not participate in an extra-curricular activity for the following
variables: Creativity, Financial literacy, Managing ambiguity, Marshalling of resources, Planning
and Entrepreneurial intentions. Respectively, participation in extracurricular activities affects all the
variables of entrepreneurial skills and entrepreneurial intentions of students.

Table 6: Statistically significant differences due to participate/ing in extra-curricular activity that focuses on
entrepreneurship
Dependent variables Extra-curricular M t Df p
activity
Creativity Yes 4,97 3,99 356 0,00
No 4,45
Yes 4,53 3,84 356 0,00
Financial literacy
No 3,84
Yes 4,77 3,07 356 0,00
Managing ambiguity
No 4,37
Yes 5,18 4,62 106,16 0,00
Marshalling of resources
No 4,61
Yes 4,97 5,51 108,20 0,00
Planning
No 4,23
Yes 4,97 4,09 356 0,00
Entrepreneurial intentions
No 4,15

One-way analysis of variance showed a statistically significant difference at Entrepreneurial


mindset (F=3,64, p=0,01), Managing ambiguity (F=3,01, p=0,02), Entrepreneurial intentions
(F=5,41, p=0,00) and Innovative employee (F=7,43, p=0,00). The following graph shows
statistically significant difference of reached average values at variable Entrepreneurial intentions of
those students who have a close person who is self-employed compared to students who do not have
such a person.

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Figure 3: Interaction Entrepreneurial intentions and the existence of a close person who is self-
employed

4.2.4. Results of testing hypothesis

Due to the transparency and accuracy, test results of the aforementioned hypothesis of this
research and the impact of certain factors on entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge, skills and
intentions, are presented in the following table.

Table 7: Results of testing hypothesis


Scale Dependent variables H1 H2 H3
Faculty University Course Extra-curr Self-empl
Entrepreneurial + + - - +
MINDSET mindset
Core self-evaluation + + - - -

Entrepreneurial + + - - -
attitudes
ENTREPRENEURIAL Entrepreneurial + + - - -
KNOWLEDGE knowledge
Creativity - + + + -

ENTREPRENEURIAL Financial literacy - + + + -


SKILLS
Managing ambiguity - + - + +

Marshalling of - + - + -
resources
Planning - + - + -

INTENTIONS AND Innovative employee + + - - +


CONNECTEDNESS TO
Entrepreneurial + + - + +
LABOUR MARKET
intentions

Finally, we can conclude the following:


x With reference to the various faculties, there is a difference in the entrepreneurial
knowledge, intentions and mind set, while there is no difference in entrepreneurial skills
in the achieved average values of the surveyed students.

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x With reference to various universities, there is a difference in all tested variables with
obvious lower values for students of the University of Bihac.
x With regard of attending courses / modules in entrepreneurship, there is a difference in
Creativity and Financial Literacy, while there is no difference in the Entrepreneurial mind
set, Core self-evaluation, Entrepreneurial attitudes, Entrepreneurial knowledge, Managing
ambiguity, Marshalling of resources, Planning, Innovative employee and Entrepreneurial
intentions.
x With regard to participation in extracurricular activities, there is a difference in all
variables of entrepreneurial skills and entrepreneurial intentions in achieved average
values of the surveyed students.
x In view of the existence of a close person who is self-employed, there is a difference only
for variable: Entrepreneurial mindset, Managing ambiguity, Entrepreneurial Intentions
and Innovative employee.

Aim of this research was also, to reveal the desire of students after graduation when it comes to their
future careers. As shown in the figure below, only 10,72% students want to work in the private sector.

Figure 4: The desire of students after graduation

As expected most students after graduation want to work in the public sector. They do not have
excessive desire to start their own business, and the private sector is seen as "exploiter of labor force".

5. Recommendations

If Entrepreneurship education is crucial for boosting economic growth in Europe..


(Drake, 2014, p.6) then educational institutions and educational policy are of crucial importance.
While Bosnia and Herzegovina has a number of strategic documents related to entrepreneurial
education, the results of these documents are absent. In the analysis of existing plans and programs
of economic faculties, the presence of entrepreneurial attitudes in defining learning outcomes, key
competencies and objectives of curricula is visible. However, this research has shown that there is a
gap between "what is on paper," and what we find in practice.

Therefore, it is necessary to find the right way to measure learning outcomes. The objectives
of curricula post by SMART principle. Wake responsibility and universities from dormancy.

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Recognize that entrepreneurial learning does not necessarily mean starting a business. Therefore,
learning about entrepreneurship should be present on all higher education institutions (not only
business schools and faculties of economics).

The results showed that there is a need for further education of teachers. In addition to
teachers, classes must be maintained by prominent businessmen, leaders, managers. Higher
education institutions must be open and accept their role and responsibility for economic
development. They have to react to changes in the environment. They must be prepared for such
changes. They have to be creators and drivers. Higher education institutions should have themselves
become entrepreneurial institutions. So if a graduated student is the "finished product" of HEI, the
question is: Which company can afford to launch its product on the market and loses any further
interest?

Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the feedback on graduated students (but not "only on
paper"). Feedback should be collected from three sources: the graduated student, the employer and
the local community. This information should be good quality inputs for the creation, revision and
implementation of plans and programs. It is a continuous process. And certain rules and procedures
for adopting and revising the plans and programs need to simplify. Thanks to technology and the
accelerated process of life, all things for which we previously took several months now are
available to us in a few seconds. And that the HEI must adapt. We are swamped with paperwork
and procedures, but without results. The focus should be on results.

6. Concluison and remarks

The transition process of BaH has produced significant changes in the design and creation of
the private sector, and stressed the importance of development of entrepreneurship. Supporting the
business development implies the development of entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and forces an
entrepreneurial mindset (Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship). In this context, the role of higher
education institutions is enormous. Education in entrepreneurship has not only economic, but also
social implications. To equip young people with skills, to educate them to be active in business in
order to shape reality by using their own hands and brains, is essential to ensure the wealth
and well-being of a society in the long run (Dabic and Pietrzykowski, 2011, p.6).

However, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, economic development, a huge number of unemployed


and the dissatisfaction of employers with the level of acquired knowledge and skills of new
employees, are a sign that the effects of entrepreneurship education are absent.

Results of these studies showed that when it comes to key competence of entrepreneurship the
achieved average values of students of economics were not so different compared to students of
other faculties. When it comes to the variable Entrepreneurial skills, a statistically significant
difference exists only in relation to the students of the Biotechnical Faculty, while in relation to
other, a statistically significant difference (although it was expected) does not exist. Since a huge
difference in all dependent variables has been proved, when it comes to universities, namely much
lower value was achieved by the students of the University of Bihac, we have tested only
differences among the students of this university. The results of this test showed that in some
variables (Entrepreneurial mind set, Core self-evaluation, and Entrepreneurial attitudes)
significantly lower values were achieved for students of economics in relation to other faculties of
the University of Bihac. For sure it is a huge issue for teachers of this faculty, students and the
environment.

In BaH, Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is most commonly associated with the term
"starting a business." But, it is evident from the definition, given by the European Reference

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Framework, that Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship covers a lot more than "starting a
business". Due to the economic and social implications, entrepreneurship education in Bosnia and
Herzegovina must be taken more seriously.

References

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