Perceived educational needs of women entrepreneurs in a business incubator setting
Heath, William J.
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The focus of this study was to examine the past educational experiences women entrepreneurs had that related to the operation of their businesses in an incubator setting. The study also examined educational needs not adequately addressed for women entrepreneurs in this setting. Data were gathered by participant interview methods using a qualitative research approach. Twenty subjects were selected for individual interviews. They were located through personal contact upon recommendation of the managers or executive directors of business incubator facilities. Interview questions addressed business, computer, oral and written communication, and general educational experiences related to their businesses as well as perceived educational needs. In addition, eight incubator managers where the subjects' businesses were located were also interviewed to determine their perceptions of the entrepreneurs' educational needs. Demographic information was obtained from the subjects as to age, previous business experience, educational experiences, degrees earned, professional certification, and other education. Their previous occupations as related to their present business enterprises were also obtained. Taped responses to the interview questions were transcribed, verified, and examined for similarities and differences. A profile of the 20 female entrepreneurs who had their businesses located in a business incubator facility emerged. They had a mean age of 43 years, had worked for a number of years before making the decision to go into their own businesses, and had diverse educational backgrounds ranging from high school graduation through the Ph.D. degree. Their business experiences varied widely. A common concern of the 20 subjects interviewed was lack of computer knowledge and experience. This concern surfaced regardless of prior course work completed. Also, development of additional accounting, communication, and marketing skills emerged as educational needs. Course structure of available courses was a concern. Courses offered on an intensive basis were needed. Further, the interviewees felt that considerable time could be saved by having course work and seminars taught on-site at the incubator facility. Coursework geared to small businesses so that the material and information obtained would have a direct application to their endeavors was desired. In addition, having a computer center within the incubator facility was identified as needed by the female entrepreneurs.
- Doctoral Dissertations