Summaries | NCRVE Home | Site Search | Product Search

Fostering Entrepreneurship Through Business Incubation: The Role and Prospects of Postsecondary Vocational-Technical Education (Report 2: Case Studies) (MDS-895)

V. M. Hernandez-Gantes, R. P. Sorensen, A. H. Nieri

This report presents nine case studies featuring efforts to foster community development through business incubation and entrepreneurial programs at two-year colleges. These case studies served a complementary purpose to a national survey of managers and entrepreneurs in business incubators, including those sponsored by two-year colleges (see Report 1, Hernandez-Gantes, Sorensen, & Nieri, 1996a). Through case studies, a shared understanding of entrepreneurship and the involvement of two-year colleges in community development efforts was further developed.

The case studies featured here represent efforts to support business incubation by community and technical colleges, private nonprofit organizations, and other public/private partnerships. Some cases feature college programs or courses with the focus on entrepreneurship and/or development of the expertise on business operations needed to start and run a business. In only a few cases was there a clear connection between business incubation and college coursework on entrepreneurship. However, the readers should be able to identify various opportunities to integrate these efforts, and the possibility to offer other related services in the community.

Briefly, the involvement of two-year colleges in fostering economic development in the community was found in three levels: (1) support of business incubation, (2) provision of business-related services, and (3) education and training opportunities offered to the general public. The scope of the involvement to support these efforts varied according to the resources and circumstances leading to their implementation. The commitment and leadership of key individuals behind these efforts were critical to successful implementation of business incubators and entrepreneurship programs at the community college level. To maintain the efforts, continuous leadership of those involved in the day-to-day operations was also an essential factor for success. However, it was at this stage where the involvement of two-year colleges seemed to be rather weak. Once a program was established (e.g., a business incubator), the operation may become a satellite entity, and, in many instances, there may be no linkages with the college other than through funding. Further, there were practically no connecting activities between sponsoring colleges and local high schools to expose students to entrepreneurial ventures. Although two-year colleges sponsor business incubators and provide business-related services through assistance centers and/or courses with a focus on entrepreneurship, there is usually a strong manager or director at the operational level who makes up for the weak involvement of the sponsoring institution once the operation is running. Based on case study information, the question that remains is, what can we do to improve the involvement of two-year colleges on the efforts described above?

To address this question, two levels of discussion are presented. The first level involves an outline of the involvement of two-year colleges in economic and entrepreneurship development in the community, which sets the stage for the second level of discussion. The second level of discussion is guided by a set of questions to allow the readers to interpret the case studies in light of the potential use for them as administrators, instructors, or students. Discussion questions are provided for key areas relevant to the involvement of two-year colleges in economic and entrepreneurship development in the community. The objective was to stimulate critical reading by users and to guide those interested in implementation and instructional issues.

Full text of this publication | NCRVE Home