Entrepreneur Mindset: EU vs USA

Enterprises are the economy’s backbone; they are major drivers of innovation, competitiveness and growth. Enterprises are the key source of job creation. However not all the countries value entrepreneurship the same.

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Some countries are known to be more entrepreneurial oriented than others; Some aim to become as such, in other ones prevails the opinion that entrepreneurship is something being not very positive or attractive. In Central European countries, the general public opinion is still not in a great favor of entrepreneurship. The widespread opinion presumes that entrepreneurship involves high social differentiation which makes people work hard, get unduly rich, it is about speculation, and all the evil behind. However, this is on contrary to the entrepreneurship philosophy as accepted in more entrepreneurial countries, in which entrepreneurs are characterized as heroes, changing the world and customs, generating progress and creating added value.

A systematic relationship exists between a country’s level of economic development and its level and type of entrepreneurial activity. Countries with similar per capita GDP tend to exhibit similar level of entrepreneurial activity. At low levels of per capita GDP, industrial structure is characterized by the popularity of many small enterprises. As per income increases, industrialization and economies of scale allow larger and established firms to satisfy the increasing demand of growing markets and to increase their relative role in the economy.

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Compared to USA, today Europe’s entrepreneurship development and its competitive performance is lacking far away behind. Europe needs more enterprises, economic growth and entrepreneurs who are willing to embark innovative ventures, increase the economic level growth and open new job spaces. Being aware of this situation Europe has already started to take necessary steps to improve the actual situation by lowering taxes, cutting the red tape, helping SMEs go international, etc., which can be found in many action plans provided till now, such as Entrepreneurship Action Plan, Lisbon Agenda, Oslo Agenda, etc. As stated in the European Charter for small enterprises “Europe’s effort to usher in the new economy will succeed only if small business is brought to the top of the agenda”.

One of the most important steps which seem to have the highest impact on the improvement of the economic situation is entrepreneurship education. Europe has done a lot in this field, by introducing this topic in schools’ curricula, and this was the subject of my BSc thesis. Various studies suggest that entrepreneurial success is largely linked to education and therefore involves a middle-class bias. Entrepreneurs seem to have a higher education level compared to average employees. Higher level of education seems to increase both the probability of becoming entrepreneur and the success of individuals in that sector in terms of the earnings. European Commission on “SMEs in Focus” paper-work 2002 proves that well educated starters use more support service, e.g. better condition for loans and grants, better access to support services such as technical, legal, managerial advice and information centers. Education seems to be an important factor for entrepreneurs to develop their personal abilities and competencies, as well as they have strong impact on economic development of the modern society

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However, although Entrepreneurship as a notion and as a business field has its roots early enough to compete with the one in USA, entrepreneurship as an education field is quite new. Lisbon Strategy, followed by “Entrepreneurship Green Paper” and “Entrepreneurship Action Plan” were among the first and important steps undertaken to introduce and promote entrepreneurship education among European universities. Findings of my research show that nowadays almost all business schools offer at least one course on entrepreneurship field, but they are mainly elective courses. Entrepreneurship is still not well accepted among students and the main reason for this is because entrepreneurship education is unattractive to students. European Universities in their educational system offer lectures, case studies, guest lectures, some of them do workshops, summer schools, research projects etc., whereas in USA apart from the above mentioned methodologies they further offer a variety of entrepreneurial activities, such as different rewarded competitions, networks with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, alumni who sponsor researches, projects and competitions. Students in USA therefore are more motivated to study, work and give back to universities which invest in them.

It was strongly approved through researches that in Europe an entrepreneurship course is mainly offered to business students and almost none of the engineer students has access to or takes the courses, with the main reason because it is not promoted so. Findings showed us the decreasing number of engineers in Europe, as a result of not so required and paid profession. Most of the enginners in Europe that want to become entreprenerus continues their studies in USA or immigrate there, because Europe still is not in the level of promoting entrepreneurship at all levels.

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Engineering is a very important field which promises a lot for the economy of a country, hence we as Euopean should do more in this regard.

 

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