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Entrepreneurship in a School Setting: Introducing a Business Concept in a Public Context


Karin Axelsson har undersökt hur regeringens strategi för entreprenörskap inom utbildningsområdet förankrats och utvecklats i praktiken. Resultatet visar att det är stora skillnader mellan den skrivna strategin och vad som sker ute i klassrummen.


Karin Axelsson


Professor Yvonne Eriksson, Mälardalens högskola Docent Maria Mårtensson, Stockholms universitet


Professor Karin Berglund, Stockholms universitet

Disputerat vid

Mälardalens högskola



Abstract in English

Entrepreneurship has during the last decades gained an immense interest in academia, politics and practice. It is argued from politics that more entrepreneurs are necessary for the economic development. In addition, nowadays entrepreneurship is also perceived as a solution to social and societal challenges. This drives a need for entrepreneurial people everywhere in society who can cope with the inconstant and uncertain world of today. As a consequence, there are around the world numerous educational initiatives trying to inspire and fuel an entrepreneurial mind-set. Here, educations of all kind become relevant contexts since they provide an opportunity to affect children, youth’s and adult’s interest and attitudes towards entrepreneurship, and as such give a possibility to reach a vast number of people.

Sweden is no exception, and in 2009 the Swedish Government launched a ‘Strategy for entrepreneurship in the field of education’ in which entrepreneurship is said to run like a common thread throughout education. The main focus is that self-employment is to become as natural as being an employee. As such the Government took an active stand for implementing entrepreneurship in the school setting on a broad front, from preschool to adult education.

This development can be seen as part of New Public Management; a development where concepts from the private sector are lent and transferred to the public sector. Thus, when introducing entrepreneurship in the Swedish educational system, this at the same time means introducing a traditional business concept in a public setting. Therefore, the overall aim of this thesis is to increase knowledge of and insights on how a business concept – entrepreneurship – is operationalised and constructed in a public setting.

When placing entrepreneurship in new societal contexts other questions arise and complexity intensifies. In this qualitative research, the empirical context in focus are schools. It investigates how entrepreneurship is constructed among teachers in their work. But also how this business concept is included in a non-business setting by studying how the entrepreneurship strategy is operationalised in educational practice.

As such the thesis and its findings contribute to the scientific discussions on societal entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education, as well as on strategy and strategising in a public context. The research also aspire to serve inspiration, insights and food for thoughts on discussions and reflections on entrepreneurship within the school practice.

This compilation thesis include five papers. To be able to fulfil the aim this research use a broad theoretical base and multiple qualitative research methods. The combination of methods include semi-structured interviews, in-depth interview using the stimulated recall method, focus group interviews, participative meetings, observations, document studies, digital questionnaires, written inquiries, analysing texts and critical incidents questionnaires.


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