Postgraduate research opportunities

Entrepreneurial Education: Towards greater geographical and cultural relevance

This scholarship provides an opportunity to explore cultural factors affecting entrepreneurial thinking and action (mindset) in different geographic locations and how those shape perceptions of relevance of entrepreneurial education.

Number of places

One funded place


Home fee, Stipend


19 January 2021


31 March 2021


36 months from October 2021


Candidates are required to have:

  • An excellent undergraduate degree with Honors in a relevant business, social science or science subject (including, but not limited to, Entrepreneurship, International Business, Psychology or Pedagogy);
  • A Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject will be strongly preferred;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and be able to communicate effectively with people from across different cultures;
  • An inquisitive mind and a strong interest in academic research;
  • Excellent analytical skills and a demonstrable aptitude to undertake research and develop into an independent researcher;

Excellent written and oral English language skills (see the application page for minimum test scores if English is not your first language)

Project Details

In recent years, Entrepreneurial Education (EE) has gained significant traction, particularly within Higher Education. Indeed, many Universities now offer EE programming at a range of levels from Undergraduate through to MBA and Executive Education. Aligned to this increased provision, a strong body of academic and practitioner research has emerged on the pedagogy and delivery modes of EE.


‘Best practice’ EE is increasingly considered to include an entrepreneurial cognition approach to study, whereby an emphasis is placed on how entrepreneurs think and behave (Mitchell et al., 2002) – the so called ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ (Naumann, 2017). This focuses on one’s entrepreneurial thinking, behaviours and actions in the pursuit of entrepreneurial activities and outcomes. Key skills and behaviours such as experimentation, creation, persistence and empathy (Neck et al., 2014) are emphasised, largely drawing on action-learning base pedagogical approaches (Mukesh et al., 2020) used at leading US institutions.


Critically, however, this cognition approach to EE is somewhat myopic in scope. The skills and behaviours emphasised are derived from predominantly North American and Western European contexts, which share similar attitudes towards risk, uncertainty, short-termism, individualism and failure (Hofstede, 2001). This calls into question not only the value of current cognition-based EE models in international contexts, but also the relevance of EE curricula for international students studying in Western Europe or North America and planning to return to their own home countries.


Based on these issues and the gaps in our current understanding, this PhD project aims to investigate how perceptions of entrepreneurial thinking underpinning behaviours (‘mindset’) differ across cultural contexts and how this impacts the perceived value of EE programmes. This aligns to recognition in the literature of the importance of appropriate EE provision for international students (Bhatia and Levina, 2020) and the need for a focus on applied and practical learning that builds the skills required for conducting business now and for shaping the future of business (Binks et al., 2007).


In response, this PhD project will be driven by the following research questions:


-What cultural contextual factors affect entrepreneurial thinking and action (mindset) in different geographic locations?


-How do these culturally-mediated views shape the relevance of entrepreneurial mindset as currently constructed?


-How do these culturally-mediated views shape perceptions of relevance of EE programming?


-What are the implications for EE generally and for cognition/entrepreneurial mindset-based EE in different countries around the world?



Few studies have sought to better understand the intersection between culture and the construct of entrepreneurial mindset (Cacciotti and Hayton, 2017; Welter, 2011).

This is unsurprising, since the notion of entrepreneurial mindset itself has been evolving over the past fifty years. Early approaches draw on the trait perspective, founded on the assumption that entrepreneurs have distinctive features setting them apart from non-entrepreneurs (Brockhaus, 1980; Hull et al., 1982; Liles, 1974; McClelland, 1961; McClelland and Winter, 1969). The perspective has been criticised as inadequate to explaining all variations of entrepreneurial behaviour (Gartner, 1988; Ramoglou et al., 2020). An alternative approach has drawn on a cognitive lens, proposing that entrepreneurial behaviour is better understood in terms of how entrepreneurs think rather than who they are (Mitchell et al., 2007). This perspective has flourished into a number of dimensions of entrepreneurial thinking, including their how they reason under uncertainty and risk (Brockner et al., 2004; Jones and Casulli, 2014), how they solve problems and identify opportunities (DeTienne and Chandler, 2004; Welter et al., 2016), how they respond to positive or negative developments (Haynie et al., 2012), and how they handle failure (Cacciotti et al., 2016; Cardon et al., 2011; Cope, 2003, 2011). 


Wider research on cross-cultural differences would suggest that many of the principles underpinning these concepts may not just sit uncomfortably in some countries, but may in particular contexts actually work against individuals and their entrepreneurial ambitions (Rarick and Han, 2015). Take, for instance, the concept of failure. Whilst this is celebrated and seen as a valuable learning opportunity in the US and the UK (Cope, 2003, 2011), in other contexts such public ‘humiliation’ can result in the loss of ‘face’ (Wang, 2012), ostracism by communities and, in the extreme, cause public stigma (Ucbasaran et al., 2013) and shame that may result in suicide (Lester, 1997; Yamasaki et al., 2004). As a result of these differing cultural perceptions on the skills and behaviours underpinned by mindset, it is critical to understand how such cultural beliefs also shape perceptions of the value of EE built on the principles of an entrepreneurial thinking (mindset). Not only may this educational approach be of lower perceived value in some contexts, critically it may not be considered relevant or useful by students seeking training and support in entrepreneurship.


There is thus a significant – and timely – need to challenge the dominant assumption that the principles of the entrepreneurial mindset, as currently conceived by Western EE education, have universal appeal and application.


With support from the MBA office at the University of Strathclyde, the successful candidate will be facilitated in accessing a ‘sampling frame’ of over 500 MBA participants across eight different geographical contexts (subject to participants’ consent).


An indicative timeline for the PhD project is outlined below:


Year 1: Literature research and review; meetings with relevant stakeholders (e.g. MBA office; international MBA centres). Regular supervisory sessions. Research Methods training as part of Strathclyde Business School as well as Entrepreneurial Mindset classes in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship as well as at other world leading institution. Design of data collection instrument.


Year 2: Implement Phase 1 of data collection and analyse data; establish principles for Phase 2 ‘real time’ data collection; collate and analyse Phase 2 data; develop Phase 3 interview protocol based on Phase 2 findings; complete Phase 3 interviews.


Year 3: Transcribe and code Phase 3 interviews; analyse the full data set; develop a full draft of the thesis; begin dissemination of findings to stakeholders; prepare research paper for submission to relevant conferences and journals.




Bhatia, A. and Levina, N. (2020) ‘The Diverse Rationalities of Entreprneneurship Education: Epistemic Stance Perspective’. Academy of Management Learning & Education, In-Press. Available at:


Binks, M., Starkey, K. and Mahon, C. L. (2007) ‘Entrepreneurship education and the business school’. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 18(1), pp. 1-18.


Brockhaus, R. H. (1980) ‘Risk taking propensity of entrepreneurs’. Academy of Management

Journal, 23(3), 509-520.


Brockner, J., Higgins, E. T., & Low, M. B. (2004), ‘Regulatory focus theory and the entrepreneurial process’, Journal of business venturing, 19(2), 203-220.


Brundin, E. (2007) 'Catching it as it happens’. In H. Neergaard & J. P. Ulhøi (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Entrepreneurship. (pp. 279-307). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


Cacciotti, G., and Hayton, J. (2017) "National culture and entrepreneurship." The Wiley Handbook of Entrepreneurship 401-422.


Cacciotti, G., Hayton, J. C., Mitchell, J. R. and Giazitzoglu, A. (2016). A reconceptualization of fear of failure in entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 31(3), 302-325.


Cardon, M. S., Stevens, C. E., and Potter, D. R. (2011), ‘Misfortunes or mistakes?: Cultural sensemaking of entrepreneurial failure’, Journal of Business Venturing, 26(1), 79-92.


Cope, J. (2003) ‘Entrepreneurial learning and critical reflection: Discontinuous events as triggers for “higher level” learning.’ Management Learning, 34(4), pp. 429-450.


Cope, J. (2011) ‘Entrepreneurial learning from failure: An interpretive phenomenological analysis’. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(6), pp. 604-623.


DeTienne, D. R., & Chandler, G. N. (2004). Opportunity identification and its role in the entrepreneurial classroom: A pedagogical approach and empirical test. Academy of management learning & education, 3(3), 242-257.


Gartner, W. B. (1988). ‘“Who is an entrepreneur?” is the wrong question’, American Journal of Small Business, 12(4), 11-32.


Haynie, J. M., Shepherd, D. A. and Patzelt, H. (2012), ‘Cognitive adaptability and an entrepreneurial task: The role of metacognitive ability and feedback’, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(2), 237-265.


Hofstede, G. (2001) Culture's consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations. Sage publications.


  1. D. L., Bosley, J. J. and Udell, G. G. (1980) ‘Reviewing the heffalump: Identifying potential entrepreneurs by personality characteristics’, Journal of Small Business Management, 18, 11-18.


Jones, M. V. and Casulli, L. (2014), ‘International entrepreneurship: Exploring the logic and utility of individual experience through comparative reasoning approaches’, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 38(1), 45-69.


Lester, D. (1997) ‘The role of shame in suicide’, Suicide and Life‐Threatening Behavior, 27(4), 352-361.


Liles, P. (1974) ‘Who are the entrepreneurs?’, MSU Business Topics, 22, 5-14.


McClelland, D. (1961) The achieving society. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.


McClelland, D. and Winter, D. G. (1969) Motivating economic achievement. New York: Free


Mitchell, R. K., Busenitz, L. W., Bird, B., Marie Gaglio, C., McMullen, J. S., Morse, E. A., and Smith, J. B. (2007), ‘The central question in entrepreneurial cognition research 2007’, Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 31(1), 1-27.


Mitchell, R. K., Busenitz, L., Lant, T., McDougall, P., Morse E. A. and Smith, B. (2002) ‘Toward a theory of entrepreneurial cognition: Rethinking the people side of entrepreneurship research’. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 27(2), pp. 93-104.


Mukesh, H. V., Pillai, K. R. and Mamman, J. (2020) Action-embedded pedagogy in entrepreneurship education: an experimental enquiry. Studies in Higher Education, 45(8), pp. 1679-1693.


Naumann, C. (2017) Entrepreneurial mindset: A synthetic literature review. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 5(3), 149-172.


Neck, H. M., Greene, P. G., and Brush, C. G. (2014) Teaching Entrepreneurship: A Practice-Based Approach. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


Ramoglou, S., Gartner, W. B., & Tsang, E. W. (2020). “Who is an entrepreneur?” is (still) the wrong question. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 13, e00168.


Rarick, C., & Han, T. (2015). The role of culture in shaping an entrepreneurial mindset. International Journal of Entrepreneurship, 19(2), 119-125.


Ucbasaran, D., Shepherd, D. A., Lockett, A., & Lyon, S. J. (2013). Life after business failure: The process and consequences of business failure for entrepreneurs. Journal of Management, 39(1), 163-202.


Wang, R. (2012) ‘Chinese Culture and Its Potential Influence on Entrepreneurship’. International Business Research, 5(10), pp. 76-90.


Welter, F. (2011). Contextualizing entrepreneurship—conceptual challenges and ways forward. Entrepreneurship theory and Practice, 35(1), 165-184.


Welter, C., Mauer, R., and Wuebker, R. J. (2016), ‘Bridging behavioral models and theoretical concepts: effectuation and bricolage in the opportunity creation framework’, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 10(1), 5-20.


Yamasaki, A., Chinami, M., Morgenthaler, S., Kaneko, Y., Nakashima, K., & Shirakawa, T. (2004). Enterprise failures correlate positively with suicide rate for both sexes in Japan. Psychological reports, 95(3), 917-920.

Funding Details

Fee waiver at Home rate and annual stipend



*Whilst open to International candidates, please note that this scholarship covers          

Home/RUK Fee rate only.

How to apply

At this stage, we are inviting applicants to apply for the scholarship only (citing reference number 2338). The successful candidate will then be asked to complete an application for PhD study at Strathclyde.


All applications should include:

  • a cover letter indicating the candidate's relevant skills/experience and how they can contribute to this research;
  • a CV and relevant qualification transcripts (e.g. undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree);
  • two references (please refer to guidance on references here)


When sending the above documents please use the following file-naming convention: fullname_typeofdocument


For example:


  • Johnsmith_coverletter
  • Johnsmith_CV
  • Johnsmith_transcript1
  • Johnsmith_transcript2
  • Johnsmith_reference1
  • Johnsmith_reference2

Apply now by uploading your documents.”