University Teachers entrepreneurial thinking and implementation at work

Minna Tunkkari-Eskelinen
JAMK University of Applied Science

Finnish economy has raised the key role of promoting entrepreneurship at various levels of education from the international, national and regional development point of view. Supporting entrepreneurial thinking and activity is seen as important in educational institutions both as a part of competence and as a method of teaching or pedagogical challenges. Entrepreneurship vision and strategy is a key goal at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences (JAMK). The aim is to be the most entrepreneurship-oriented University in Finland. Teachers in JAMK were asked three key questions in their work: What does entrepreneurship mean in their own work and in external co-operation? How does their work change when entrepreneurship becomes part of the daily task at the University? How much entrepreneurial approach is implemented in their work? The qualitative data collection method in this project (called Entrepreneurial Myths) was workshop documentation, and it consisted four different workshop events with all together 130 staff members (out of 700). As a pedagogical experiment, the workshop documentation became a small part of JAMK's efforts to promote entrepreneurship. Additionally, 156 JAMK teachers responded national self-reflection questionnaire about their entrepreneurship activities at work.
The data revealed the obstacles and solutions to the promotion of entrepreneurship in JAMK. The five following categories emerged: vision and goal of the JAMK University, knowledge gap in competences, attitude of the teachers and management, organizational structures and resources, and the culture of activating. Differences between departments were found especially in the understanding of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship was quite a big part of the teachers’ work, and it showed up very strong industry-orientation in classroom teaching. According to the findings, there is a lack of common understanding. The question was arisen whether all teachers should understand entrepreneurship in the same way. In addition, each teacher has shaped the kind of promise of his/her own entrepreneurial task for the future.
The data, both solutions and promises brought up lots of things on which it is possible to build common understanding, ways of working, overcoming skills shortages, and creating an entrepreneurial culture of action. Based on these researches, it seems that teachers’ understanding of the vision and goals at JAMK University is worth of re-processing. The strategy needs to be clarified more in detailed in each of the departments, and sharing the best practices related to entrepreneurial pedagogy is part of this operational work. Teachers’ face the need of preparing the students for future working life with requirements of an entrepreneurial grip. For students, entrepreneurship is not necessarily a pipeline, which is created through a career, but can be a certain stage in life span. University students are well aware of their possibilities. The teachers should pay attention to implementing their entrepreneurial mindset.