23 SES 07 B, International Organisations
This study seeks to better understand how entrepreneurship education (EE) became so popular and widely adopted across organisations and contexts, how it is being introduced, and how it is explained as a response to nearly any national and global challenge. We analyse the official documents on Entrepreneurship Education policy of two international organizations from year 2012 to year 2018: The European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Using critical analyses of the written policy discourse (e.g., Wodak & Meyer, 2016) of those organizations, and examine how these they discursively shape and justify the concept of EE. Specifically, we address the following questions: How can the discourse about entrepreneurship education be characterized? What are the similarities and differences between those organizations discourse shaping, and what can it imply?
We chose to analyse the growth and development of entrepreneurship education in light of three central concepts: the neo-liberal state, globalisation, and international organisations. Neo-liberalism espouses economic freedom for individuals, competition, and the transfer of responsibility to private bodies perceived as more efficient and smarter than state institutions. However, application of the neo-liberal approach worldwide is increasing inequality, both within and between countries (Springer, 2016).
In the scope of this study, globalisation can be summed up as a phenomenon that includes the movement of people, capital, and knowledge beyond their native national and cultural boundaries, which seemingly creates access to new cultures and markets. From a liberal point of view, among other benefits, globalization assures efficiency and increased welfare to all countries taking part in it (Busch, 2016). In practice, not everyone benefits from the fruits of globalisation and Some individuals and certain groups are harmed by elements of this phenomenon (Rivzi & Lingard, 2000).
The combination of globalisation and neo-liberalism led to the emergence of a ‘new world order,’ partially characterised by the expanding influence of international organisations. States’ membership in these bodies creates a certain status, influences their power, and impacts their economy and society. To gain admittance to such ‘elected-membership clubs’ a country must comply with certain conditions; in other words, it must comply with the principles of neo-liberalism (Chomsky, 1998).
Against the background of globalization and the neo-liberal notions of the international organizations, educational policies are formulated, designed and applied in various areas in different ways. Underlying these policies is the perceived need to provide the tools and skill-set each student will need to become a future contributor to the market’s economic growth. Many policy documents identify entrepreneurship skills as key characteristics of a graduate of the national educational system.
The concept of ‘entrepreneurship education’ originated in the business world. Notably, no consensual definition of entrepreneurship exists, but most definitions involve components of innovation, locating and exploiting opportunities, and setting up a new business or organisation (Miller, 1983; Pozen, 2008; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). The connection between entrepreneurship and education has many manifestations. In this study, we focus only on the process of imparting entrepreneurial skills to students on the broadest educational continuum, in ways that involve both theoretical knowledge and actual practice (Matricano, 2014).
The emergence of the EE phenomenon is part of the expansion of the neo-liberal view, and a natural continuation of the neo-liberal trend in education. In a knowledge economy, the individual’s mind is the most significant means of production, and the main goal of education is to equip future employees with abilities and skills that will benefit them and the market (Patrick, 2013). However, while these could help the strong become stronger, the perpetuation of inequality due to EE has become a source of criticism (Lackéus, 2017).
In this study we analyzed ten formal policy documents, published by the OECD and the EU between the years 2012 and 2018. Those policy documents reflect the formal voice of the international organizations (IO's) regarding entrepreneurship education, among other issues. Being such, they tell us informational details, such as budget and time tables, but also imply the organizational values and priorities (Gibton, 2016). We use Critical Discourse Analysis as our maim research method. CDA is a method developed primarily by Fairclough (2003) to analyze issues related to social sciences by examining different aspects of discourse and language A major aspect of choosing CDA as an analytical method, is the importance given to the language selections of the policy agency, as a reflection of power relations, social interactions, dominant ideologies and world perception (Rogers, Malancharuvil-Berkes, Mosley, Hui & O'garro, 2005; Sardoč, 2018). Therefore, the language selection should be analyzed in the social and political context it appears at (Gibton, 2016). The context we chose to analyze is, as we want to argue, and many scholars argued before, the most impactful and unquestionably dominate agenda trend in general, and specifically in the field of education, the neoliberalism. (Rutkowski, 2007; Ball, 2010; Ball, 2012; Patrick, 2013; Sellar & Lingard, 2014; Gunter, & Fitzgerald, 2015; Springer, 2016; Peters, 2018). Given that CDA is a vast, versatile, rich methodology we chose to focus on three discourse dimensions. leading story lines as the main discourse devise in the usage of actors and stakeholders, to assimilate their narratives and position themselves as the victims, problem solvers or any other image they wish to plant inside the readers mind (Hewitt, 2009; Anshelm & Hansson, 2014). Communication strategies which are the way the story lines are being frames in order to convince the reader in its's authenticity. for example, the way the problem is being framed, the choice of words, the tone of the arguments, the references being used and more (Fairclogh, 2001; Hewitt, 2009). and finally, the absence of reference or discussion around a specific topic or actors, which we argue has a prominent meaning. "reading" the absence in a text is drawn from the deconstructive approach, originated by Derrida. By identifying the missing actors or neglected subjects, we can offer an alternative reading and meaning making of the text (Mumby & Stohl, 1991).
Entrepreneurship, by its definition implies to a neo-liberal value. Therefore, uncovering neoliberal discourse elements in the policy documents we analyzed was not a surprise. However, the level at which the neoliberal ideology is assimilated into language and the way it is being shaped by the OECD and the EU is interesting. According to our analyses, The OECD and the EU take part, or even leads a "discourse coalitions", as they are actors who use similar story lines over a particular period of time (Hewitt, 2009). Those story lines deepening the neoliberal approach to education, and the discourse they lead is in the interest of those IO's (Mumby & Stohl, 1991). Although taking similar approaches, the OECD and the EU use different wording and emphases, both strengthen the neoliberal discourse but creating different organizational images. The main phenomena arising from the policy analyses in this study is the reduction of macro-economic problems to the problem of education. The pattern Stronach (Stronach, 1989) found in the policy documents he analyzed about vocational training in UK, of a transformative process that the individual go through generating a social and economic recovery of the nation, repeats both in the OECD and the EU docs. This connection, between success of the individual in formal education and national economic success is yet to be proven (Stronach, 1989), more so the connection between EE and national economic growth. Even a less ambitious connection and more immediate one between EE and entrepreneurial intentions has not been proven yet, and in some cases shown even an opposite trend (Nabi, Walmsley, Liñán, Akhtar and Neame, 2016). Other researches show that there is a small but positive connection (Bea, Qian, Miao & Fiet, 2014), but the conclusion of EE alone creating a national economic success is still far from reaching.
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