L.R. Huber, R. Sloof and M. Van Praag, Institute for the Study of Labour, Discussion Paper Series
Huber et al (2012) evaluate the short-term impact of BizWorld, a global entrepreneurship education programme for primary aged children, on the development of cognitive and non-cognitive entrepreneurial skills and entrepreneurial intentions among primary school children in the Netherlands. They find that the programme has a significant positive effect on the non-cognitive entrepreneurial skills of participating Dutch children. However cognitive entrepreneurial skills were found to be unaffected by the BizWorld programme and participation had a negative effect on children’s intention to become entrepreneurs.
BizWorld is an entrepreneurship education programme that is taught in the final year of primary school in countries around the world including the Netherlands. It aims to teach children aged 11-12 the basics of business and to promote teamwork and leadership in the classroom through a five day programme that runs over the course of two to four weeks. The five days simulate a complete business cycle, from the inception of an idea through to liquidation and commonly involves local entrepreneurs volunteering as coaches or competition judges.
The short-term impact of BizWorld was evaluated based on evidence from 63 primary schools, 118 classes and 2,751 pupils in Amsterdam. All schools voluntarily signed up to the Bizworld programme in 2010 and 2011 and were then randomly divided into treatment and control groups.
To assess the impact of the programme the children in the control and treatment groups were asked to complete two lengthy questionnaires. The first questionnaire measured nine key entrepreneurial skills, both cognitive and non-cognitive, using validated self-assessments. The second questionnaire measured entrepreneurial intentions by inviting pupils to select three jobs from a list of 22 professions and to answer the question: ‘Do you think that you would like to start your own company one day?’. The overall response rate was 87.7%.
The programme had a significant positive effect on the non-cognitive entrepreneurial skills of participating Dutch children. On average, the skills of children who participated in the 5 day experiential learning programme increased by more than their peers in terms of self-efficacy; drive for achievement; risk taking; persistence; analysis; pro-activity; and creativity. However, cognitive entrepreneurial skills were found to be unaffected by the BizWorld programme and participation had a negative effect on children’s intention to become entrepreneurs. On the basis of the significant positive effect on non-cognitive entrepreneurial skills, the authors recommend investment in enterprise programmes for primary age children rather than adolescents.
There are some limitations associated with the study. First, it only evaluates the impact of one specific entrepreneurship education programme and, second, the sample is limited to schools in the Netherlands with a proven positive attitude towards entrepreneurial education programmes for primary age children. Third, the results are explained only partially: it is not clear whether the main driver of the enhanced non-cognitive skills detected was the content of the programme, the competitive game or something else. Finally, the randomised field experiment could only measure short-term impacts rather than long term treatment effects because children in the control group were later invited to participate in the Bizworld programme.