Entrepreneurship has long been viewed as a generator of job opportunities and driver of innovation in Saudi Arabia. Current academic literature shows that there is a positive correlation between appropriate entrepreneurship education and number of self-employed individuals. In particular, the decision to engage in entrepreneurship is intentional, thus can be predicated by student attitudes toward the subject. This research adapts an original conceptual framework, wherein students’ attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and intentions to become self-employed are explored in relationship to the student activities program.
The focus of the study and its significance for the field lay in the social development and emergence of new business environment. With the newly developed educational policies oriented on entrepreneurship, young people will be equipped with relevant knowledge and training to enter the self-employment sector.
Statement of the Problem
In Saudi Arabia, entrepreneurship has been recognized as one of the critical sources for the national economic growth, closely associated with employment generation and economic development. Within the period of continuous economic and social change in the country, many graduates fail to meet new skill requirements due to the inadequacy of the obtained higher education (Almahdi, 2014). Recent inability of graduate students to locate suitable jobs led to the introduction of student activities programs as a part of the education system.
This thesis aims to investigate the impact of student activities programs on youths’ involvement in the entrepreneurship. Qualitative methods will be used to gain in-depth understanding of behavioral controls, entrepreneurial attitudes, and intentions amongst university students, aged thirty five and below, in Saudi Arabia. The data obtained will be contextualized within the theoretical paradigm of recent academic literature with the emphasis on qualitative thematic analysis.
Importance of Topic to Body of Knowledge
Closely associated with the innovative thinking and new job opportunities in the country, entrepreneurship can be facilitated through training and education programs. Despite the definitive link between entrepreneurship and economic growth, little research focuses on the relationship between student activities programs and student intentions to be involved in the entrepreneurship process. With the empirical evidence and original comprehensive theoretical framework developed to analyze the attitudinal factors related to entrepreneurship, this study will complement the existing conceptual literature on the subject matter, contributing to the further educational research.
The research will lay foundation for educational policy makers, government officials, and university representatives in Saudi Arabia, currently concerned with high unemployment rate after graduation. The results of the study can potentially be used to develop future entrepreneurship programs to increase the rate of young people’s participation in the innovative business environment.
The goal of Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy is heavily dependent on entrepreneurship as a source of innovation. According to Yusuf and Albanawi (2016a), entrepreneurship is the catalyst of economic growth, responsible for the expansion of productive activities, within relevant socioeconomic variables. Though Almahdi (2019) makes it evident that facets of entrepreneurship can be taught as a separate academic discipline in the business field, the empirical research concerning the aspects of the new education curriculum remains at the exploratory stage. With universities adopting education techniques to develop entrepreneurship as a part of graduate skills, researchers still try to determine the factors that enhance abilities and knowledge of the novel business education.
The need for entrepreneurial pedagogy is strengthened as graduates face challenges to utilize human capital in the novel business environment. Training and support provided as a part of the entrepreneurial education have both direct and indirect impact on the individuals’ intention toward self-employment (Almahdi, 2019). In the context of business education, entrepreneurship student activities programs motivate students to be more risk-taking when it comes to their career decisions.
Yusuf and Albanawi (2016b) found that pro-entrepreneurial attitudes are enhanced as the university provides support resources and partnerships with businesses as a part of the education program, allowing inclusive participation and protection of intellectual property. Such practices contribute to the formation of entrepreneurial competencies among youth, sustaining the lucrative human capital (Yusuf and Albanawi, 2016a). The targeted education and training are aimed to influence the future behavior of individuals, yet the question whether pro-entrepreneurial attitudes are positively correlated with graduates’ intentions to be self-employed remains open.
Objectives of the Thesis
The first objective is to investigate the relationship between students’ attitudes and students’ intention to be involved in the entrepreneurship. The second objective is to analyze the difference in student attitudes toward entrepreneurship in the experimental group (exposed to student activity programs) and control group. The third objective is to examine the effect of using university educational resources on students’ decision to be self-employed after the graduation. The fourth objective is to study the role of perceived behavioral control in the process of gradual formation of pro-entrepreneurial attitudes, encouraged during the participation in student activity programs.
This study takes a qualitative approach in analyzing the data obtained through semi-structured interviews. The randomly stratified sample of respondents will be comprised of 30 people with the following inclusion criteria:
- resident of Saudi Arabia;
- under thirty five years old;
- current university student.
The collected data from interviews will be transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis will be used to analyze the information obtained from the interviews. Common attitudes shared by the respondents will be identified, grouped in themes, and analyzed in detail. On the basis of these findings, the correlation between student attitudes toward entrepreneurship and their intentions to be self-employed will be established.
With graduate-level students as a primary sample of the study, the research has potential limitations in terms of generalization of its findings to the entire research population. Also, the study does not take into account external variables influencing students’ decision to be self-employed such as flexibility of the schedule, innovative environment, or higher monetary compensation. When evaluating the attitudes of Saudi graduates toward entrepreneurship, the research fails to address another sociocultural context which is distinct from the Arab business environment.
While the number of studies that were conducted to investigate the relationship between educational activities and pro-entrepreneurial attitudes, there is a significant gap in understanding the factors contributing to students’ decision to be self-employed after graduation. In their research, Yusuf and Albanawi (2016b) explored the importance of the entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia’s economy as a driver of new job opportunities and innovation. Though associated with economic efficiency, self-employment fails to incorporate social and cultural variables in the discussion.
Similarly to Yusuf and Albanawi, in his research, Almahdi (2019) focused on the significance of entrepreneurial leadership. As a source of economic growth in Saudi Arabia, it endorses educational adoption techniques in the universities, aimed at producing human capital. Though the article addresses the role of student activities programs as platforms of support and promotional participation of the universities, it fails to unveil the effect of such educational courses in the post-graduate decision-making process.
The scope of this research is most closely intertwined with the study of Yusuf and Albanawi (2016a) who provided an in-depth discussion of student activities programs in the guidance of youth toward entrepreneurship. By highlighting the strategic alignment between university and business sector, the article supports the significance of self-employment in the development of national economic goals. Yet, the research does not identify all the gaps in the analysis of perceived behavioral controls, relying mostly on quantitative methods of inquiry. To extend the foundational claims mentioned in the study, further qualitative research with a focus on thematic analysis is required
- Almahdi, H. (2014). Promoting entrepreneurs and economic growth through entrepreneurship programs: A new role of Saudi Universities. Web.
- Almahdi, H. K. (2019). Promotion and participation of Saudi universities towards the development of entrepreneurial leadership – An empirical study in Saudi Arabian context. Journal of Entrepreneurship Education, 22(6). Web.
- Yusuf, N., & Albanawi, N. I. (2016a). Promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia: Role of the universities. International Journal of Higher Education Management, 2(2), 26-33. Web.
- Yusuf N., & Albanawi, N. I. (2016b). The role of entrepreneurship in economic development in Saudi Arabia. Business and Economics Journal, 7(204), 1-5. Web.