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Entrepreneurial education for the unemployed: A case study

Victoria Singer, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In 1989, the City of Pittsfield implemented an entrepreneurial education program for the unemployed using federal funding. This study describes the evolution of the educational program and identifies key elements in the entrepreneurial education process. The literature review sets the context of the case study in the new, burgeoning field of entrepreneurial education. The lack of consensus on a definition and the "idiosyncratic" nature of entrepreneurship creates a fluid, volatile climate for this case study. The case study responds to the call for research in the field by providing a seven year in depth analysis of the results of an entrepreneurial educational program for the unemployed. A personal, narrative case study approach reflected my role as a participant/observer and included participant and staff responses. Data analysis also included document review and participant surveys. The key elements that emerged in this case study were: (1) issues of unemployment needed to be addressed in the curriculum design; (2) adult learning strategies provided methodologies that addressed those issues; (3) a staff composed of present or former business owners provided the necessary practical, relevant orientation; (4) networking skills were enhanced by interaction with peers; (5) continual feedback from participants provided essential guidance for curriculum development; and (6) beneficial results beyond business starts need to be included in assessments of entrepreneurial training programs. The case study reports that 264 of the 428 participants included in the study started businesses and almost all of the others secured employment or went on for other training. This study concludes with recommendations for support of future entrepreneurial educational programs for the unemployed as a way to create a climate for small business development in turbulent, changing economies.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Management

Recommended Citation

Singer, Victoria, "Entrepreneurial education for the unemployed: A case study" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9737584.