Ryan, Aisling (2012) Entrepreneurship Education and Management Skills: Contributory Factors in the Development of Irish SMEs. Masters thesis, National College of Ireland.
There are in excess of 200,000 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in Ireland. The Irish government has hailed them as the ‘drivers’ of the Irish economy, whilst the Irish Times described them as ‘the spine’ of our economic success. Now, Irish SMEs are feeling the brunt of the economic crisis. Both the success and failure of SMEs are linked to both managerial and entrepreneurial competencies. Entrepreneurship education and management skills are vital to SME development. For this reason, this study analyses an entrepreneur’s education and management skills as key determinants in the development of Irish SMEs.
Entrepreneurship is a composite skill, the resultant of a mix of many qualities and traits which are enhanced by entrepreneurship education. Therefore, education is a fundamental variable in the ability of entrepreneurs to develop and start-up an enterprise. Equally vital is an entrepreneurs management skills Management consists of the interlocking functions of formulating corporate policy, organising, planning, controlling and directing business resources Management is one of the main distinguishing features of SME development.
This study uses a quantitative method of research surveying Irish entrepreneurs in the ICT sector. In addition to the quantitative closed questions, open-ended questions are used to add value to the study and enhance reasoning of the causal connections between entrepreneurship education and management skills.
The findings show a positive correlation between entrepreneurship education and business start up. Despite operating within the ICT sector, the majority of entrepreneurs state that their education is more relative to business than technology. The results also uncover a deficit in managerial skills in some areas of the SMEs, due to a lack of management training, as a result of time and cost restraints Finally, among the SMEs surveyed, those which were founded pre-recession and had successfully expanded remain unaffected by the economic downturn. These, together with the SMEs founded during the recession, find their mam issues to be access to finance and the inability to expand.
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