The success of SMEs and entrepreneurship was a key factor for China’s enormous economic growth in the last decade. Therefore, the support and education of young entrepreneurs are required to be a major goal of the Chinese government in order to secure further growth and to compete with the Western countries. However, China started late in 2002 with the implementation of entrepreneurship and innovation education in their universities, compared to the capitalist nations and still is in a developing phase (Li, W., Li, C. and Du, X., 2016.). For this reason, it is necessary to investigate whether the entrepreneurship education in China caught up according to today’s economic conditions and whether, in its current state, it is sufficient for their future goals and how it is compared with international competitors.
In this essay, I first describe the importance of entrepreneurship education for entrepreneurial intention and execution of Chinese students and its benefits for economic growth. Then, I examine the current situation of entrepreneurship education in Chinese universities and compare it to the US system. At last, I analyze the prospective development of Chinese Entrepreneurship education in more detail and draw a conclusion.
The importance of Entrepreneurship Education for entrepreneurial Intention and Execution
The change of the economic system to a more market-oriented economy resulted in many Chinese individuals to develop an entrepreneurial desire and according to the General Monitor of Entrepreneurship and Yun (2010), the Chinese entrepreneurial motivation and execution positively correlate with the education in skills and knowledge about Entrepreneurship (Cinar, Du, and Hienkel, 2018). It is therefore necessary to introduce entrepreneurship education in universities in order to convert student’s entrepreneurial intention into action. Anderson (2011) further argues, that although the entrepreneurial execution is quite high, the entrepreneurs lack innovation and many SMEs thereby fail. He states that Chinese entrepreneurs lack certain capabilities that only education in universities can provide because entrepreneurship is considered as a separate subject that combines science and arts and is not only “learning by doing”. Yun (2010) expands this by determining three entrepreneurship education models for universities that benefit the student’s entrepreneurial intention. These three models contain learning, inspiration, and incubation resources. By learning about entrepreneurship, students improve their ability to detect opportunities to start a business and learn general business knowledge in order to establish their early business. The second factor, Inspiration, should also be part of entrepreneurship education and leads to a rise of the students desire to become an entrepreneur in general. Together with learning it increases the student’s confidence. Nevertheless, the practical approach should also be provided with incubation resources, which are considered as the existence of institutional facilities that supply students with needed resources, while visiting the university.
Moreover, Entrepreneurship education is not only important from the individual perspective, but also for China’s overall economic performance. As claimed by Li (2003) China needs well-structured entrepreneurial firms that are innovative and successful because the state-owned enterprises are performing poorly, and the workforce suffers termination. SMEs would provide employment opportunities and ensure the country’s positive economic performance by their implementation of essential entrepreneurial skills, which they learned through effective entrepreneurial education in their early stages.
Current Situation of Entrepreneurship Education in China
Due to the belated implementation of entrepreneurship and innovation relevant education models in nine selected Chinese universities in 2002, China lacks important educational factors, which would benefit young entrepreneurs for a successful business establishment. In fact, Xu, Lin, and Li (2011) outline that China is behind in entrepreneurship and innovation education and as a consequence, has a low entrepreneurial capacity, which results in fewer individuals becoming an entrepreneur than originally initiated. Li W., Li, C. and Du (2017) address the issue in more detail by claiming that Chinese universities do not include entrepreneurship and innovation courses in their curriculum in a sufficient quantity and theoretical depth. Additionally, the educational system is said to be unsystematic, as there are only separate and incoherent entrepreneurship courses, which do not build up an own field of science. Moreover, Ding (2017) adds, that the quantity of capable teachers is quite low and as a former socialist country with a planned economy, teachers do not seem to embody the entrepreneurial experience in order to deliver the high quality of practical knowledge.
However, as a contrary position Zhu, Zhang, and Ogbodo (2017) argue, that, with the creation of multiple governmental programs like the “Chinese Medium and Long Term Youth Development Program” in 2017, the Chinese state made significant progress in improving the quality of entrepreneurship education and enhances the necessary innovation capabilities. He emphasizes the increased quality of institutional facilities in universities, by indicating the increased number of laboratories by 6,4 % from 2010 to 2015 and their amount of staff members by 6,8 % in 2010 until 2013. Concerning universities teaching staff and curriculum, Zhu, Zhang and, Ogbodo comment that, since 2015 there are mandatory entrepreneurship courses like “Entrepreneurship foundations” and the Chinese Ministry of Education has published a training guide for the teaching staff, which educates them in current entrepreneurship theory.
The current situation of entrepreneurship and innovation education in China’s universities seem to improve steadily. The main problem lies in the creation of a structured education plan in certain universities due to inexperience, while the government continuously seems to create policies to encourage the implementation of high-class entrepreneurship education.
China’s entrepreneurship education compared to the US
In contrast to the case of China, the USA established entrepreneurial and innovative education models in 1947 with the “management of enterprises” and now appears to offer a well-structured entrepreneurship and innovation education in circa 1500 universities across the country. Firstly, American Universities offer a wider range of courses contributing to entrepreneurship and innovation (Y u 2018), which are also available in other majors than economics and therefore connect students with entrepreneurial intentions to ensure interaction between different disciplines (Zhang 2018). Furthermore, Yu (2018) states that, in contrast to Chinese universities, more American Universities have a complete infrastructure on campus to ensure entrepreneurial practice with facilities like a “social center”, “incubators” and a “patent office”.
Despite this, Zhang (2018) confirms, that due to strong cooperation between university faculties and enterprises, professors are well experienced in entrepreneurship or even have been entrepreneurs themselves. They can pass on their rich experience to their students and combine it with professional knowledge, which is also facilitated by a thoroughly teacher-student interaction and a laissez-faire oriented course design, which is adjusted to the student’s basic knowledge and ambitions. To the last point, where American entrepreneurship education is superior to the Chinese system, is the governmental and economic subvention of startups by young entrepreneurs by providing initial capital (Zhang 2018).
Indeed, the USA seems to be superior in the depth of their entrepreneurship and innovation education due to their historical priority on the private sector and the involvement of government and economy in university education. The education appears to be more substantial and students are closely connected to mentors who educate them on an emotional basis.
Future Prospects of Chinese entrepreneurship Education
The current state of Chinese entrepreneurship and innovation education is in a need of improvement and might be less developed than in the USA, for instance. Nevertheless, the Chinese government is very solicitous to improve its current situation, which the “Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation” campaign from 2015 indicates. Based on the thesis that the Western countries offer Entrepreneurship and Innovation education in a higher quality than China, Lu and Zhu (2017), for instance, indicate, that by orientating to the international concept of entrepreneurship education, China’s university staff teaching ability will improve drastically. This view is expanded by Yu (2018) saying that, because China’s universities are fully controlled by the government, policies that encourage professors to learn from global standards are implemented uncomplicatedly. In fact, Yu (2018) continues by claiming that China, in the present, introduces more policies in favor to entrepreneurship education in their university than the US and therefore, in the future, might even overtake the US standards in terms of the success of entrepreneurs measured at their education.
All in all, for the future, it is feasible that China improves its university competence in teaching entrepreneurship and innovation by copying successful systems from the West. Being supported by a government, that recognized the importance of a strong private economic sector for domestic Growth is also to be considered as an increased potential for improvement.
Referring back to the research question and the purpose of the essay, I wanted to investigate the reason for the necessity of a well-structured and executed entrepreneurship and innovation education, evaluate the situation in China compared to a capitalist country, the US, and try to take a future position. Certainly, an effective entrepreneurship education fosters innovative and successful SMEs, by not only providing the general business knowledge but also develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Even though China started late with the offer of entrepreneurship and innovation education, governmental policies, and programs in the years from 2010 until 2015 drastically improved the university status in terms of facilities and courses. Nevertheless, the quality remains behind the US system, mainly due to the inexperience of the Chinese teaching staff. The increasing importance of the private sector and the government’s encouragement about entrepreneurship are indicators for an extensive improvement of Chinese entrepreneurship education in the future. These temporary limitations of this essay are interesting to research separately by, for instance, evaluating the development of Chinese entrepreneurship education in the years from 2015 to 2020. It would certainly be interesting whether my future assumptions are well-chosen and whether China now achieved the Western standard of entrepreneurship and innovation education in their universities.
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- Nikolas Hasse (Autor), 2020, Entrepreneurship Education in China. Current Situation and Future Development, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1020781