Unemployment rises in Eurozone countries, particularly among young people. Entrepreneurship research and policy has presented entrepreneurship education as a magical means to change attitudes among school principals and teachers to work towards development and long-term growth in society. This seems to be a somewhat simplified solution of a complex problem. However, unemployment among young people as well as changing needs of societies are presented as reasons why the concept of entrepreneurship has been raised on the education policy agendas of most European countries (European Commission, 2004; OECD, 1989). The European Commission, OECD, The World Bank, and UNESCO, as well as the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket), have all produced policy documents for entrepreneurship in the education system. The Swedish school policy for entrepreneurship is based on a Government strategy. The purpose in the policy is to stimulate creativity among young people and to encourage them to be innovative and create new ideas and to transform these ideas into practice (Government Offices of Sweden, 2009).Research about the role of principals for developing an entrepreneurial attitude in learning and teaching in schools, are in many ways an unexplored area. Our aim is to uncover the meaning of an entrepreneurial attitude in schools and discuss what challenges there could be in respect to principals. Entrepreneurship in an educational context can be understood in two ways (Erkkilä, 2000): entrepreneurship education, or a narrow understanding i.e. education in starting and running business, and enterprise education, or a broad understanding, with a focus on abilities that characterizes entrepreneurs such as an energetic, creative, cooperative and innovative person who looks for opportunities and is not afraid of taking risks (Johannisson & Madsén, 1997). Based on a broad understanding, our point of departure is a school culture characterized by identifying opportunities and transforming ideas into practical and purposeful activities (Skolverket, 2010). The focus in this paper is on the entrepreneurial attitude as understood in a Swedish context- The research questions concern challenges in leadership for developing this kind of entrepreneurial attitude. Deakins et al., (2005) claim that leadership in entrepreneurial schools consists of two parts, one is the internal work with the staff like communication, coaching and reflection and the other is external like building networks with local communities. Internally, building a vision and setting directions along with understanding and developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the teaching and learning program, is according to Leithwood, et al., (2008) leadership qualities and practices characterizing leadership capabilities. A crucial aspect is then self-confidence, i.e. how people believe in their own capability. Self-efficacy theory state that self-efficacy beliefs raises motivation and thoughts that is important to develop necessary skills (Bandura, 1997). Another crucial aspect connected to self-efficacy, is to build trust and improve teachers qualities. Robinson (2010) argues that building relational trust is one essential capability in leadership. Applied to how to foster an entrepreneurial attitude in school, we will highlight some challenges for principals.
MethodsResearch on entrepreneurship is multi-disciplinary though it has its ground in an economic context; hence there is a lot of research about entrepreneurship. School leadership is also a well-studied field, but leadership in school focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset is still an unexplored area. We like to merge these perspectives to find challenges to principals’ leadership towards an entrepreneurial attitude in school work. In our analytical framework we are inspired by Hynes (1996) and Cope’s (2005) theories on entrepreneurial learning, contrasted with theories of leadership cf. Leithwood and Janzi (2005). Our empirical material consists of policy documents and scientific studies and reports.
ResultsIn leading school towards an entrepreneurial attitude, the transformation of ideas into practical activities might be the most provocative part, though it can be a big culture-breaking challenge in school. A challenge for principals is to have and firmly establish a clear direction and focus on possibilities within all regulations with attention on students’ utilizing their full potential for learning. This means to motivate and coach teachers to supervise students within the boundaries set by national steering documents, without limit their creativity. Without a firm belief in the value of this orientation, and a self-efficacy belief in the ability to set clear directions, a feeling of losing control can be frightening and threatening for the professional self, regardless of being a principal or a teacher. Another challenge for principals is then to be enough acquainted to what is going on in classrooms to know how support and motivate teachers to invest energy in this learning process (Hersey et al., 2001). Finally, a big challenge is to build network with businesses and workplaces to open up new arenas for learning.