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Cutting-Edge Assessment of Entrepreneurial Mindset Developed at Eckerd College

Sunday, October 4, 2015  
Posted by: Bonnie Nolan
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Cutting-Edge Assessment of Entrepreneurial Mindset Developed at Eckerd College

As educational programs in entrepreneurship have proliferated in recent years, educators are always exploring different ways they can best prepare students for success in entrepreneurial endeavors.  In addition to providing a foundation of knowledge and skills related to the business of entrepreneurship, such as recognizing opportunities, writing business plans, securing funding, and marketing and selling goods and services, most educators agree that one of the most important drivers for success for students of entrepreneurship is the entrepreneurial mindset—the set of personal characteristics, motivations, and ways of thinking that most contribute to entrepreneurial success.

Until recently, however, there has been no valid, comprehensive and practically meaningful way to assess this set of attributes and skills.  But the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP)™, a cutting-edge assessment tool developed by the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College, is paving the way for educators to go beyond the “nuts and bolts” of teaching entrepreneurship.

The EMP was designed to benchmark and activate the entrepreneurial capacity of individuals and teams.  The instrument provides scores on 14 scales which are compared to normative data from both entrepreneurs and corporate managers.  Scales that measure relatively enduring characteristics such as Independence, Risk Acceptance, and Action Orientation are included, as are scales that assess cognitive and behavioral skills such as Future Focus, Idea Generation, and Persistence.  Accompanying each report is a thorough Development Guide which includes interpretive material for each scale, suggestions for development, and recommended resources.


So how is using the assessment tool helpful?  For starters, it offers students an exciting way to understand themselves better, to see things from different perspectives, and to make thoughtful choices about their academic and career plans.  Given their own unique profiles of strengths and less well-developed competencies, what would be the advantages and obstacles of various entrepreneurial versus intrapreneurial opportunities?  What strengths might they seek in team members or co-founders in order to round out their own skill sets?  What curricular choices and extra-curricular activities would best allow them to take advantage of their current strengths and also enhance their relatively low scores in entrepreneurial thought and behavior?  Since the philosophy behind the instrument is that many of these critical skills can be developed over time, the feedback not only gives students an initial “benchmark” upon which they can measure themselves, but it also provides excellent resources for both leveraging their current entrepreneurial strengths and targeting areas for development.

In addition, the tool can help educators refine the content of their curricula.  Through Group Reports, educators are able to review composite data for a group of students and identify where the group is particularly strong (e.g., Need to Achieve and Idea Generation) and where they could use some development (e.g., Execution and Self-Confidence).  The EMP can also be used as a pre- and post-measure of the impact of entrepreneurship curricula.

Rebecca White, Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa, says, “Rolling out the EMP at the University of Tampa has been an exciting way to get students focused on their entrepreneurial mindset and skills. We’ve been impressed by how much students are learning about themselves through the individual assessment, and we plan to use the composite EMP data to develop programmatic enhancements.”

Other schools which have used the EMP to expand programming include Drexel University, Missouri Western State University, the University of Navarra in Spain, Javeriana University in Colombia, and Western Carolina University (WCU). 

**Dr. Jennifer Hall, EMP Co-author, and Professors David Hayes and Dr. Bill Richmond of WCU, will be presenting a workshop on the use of the EMP at WCU at the USASBE Conference in January 2016. Each individual who attends this session will be given the opportunity to take the assessment free of charge.

For more information about this innovative tool, go to or call 727-864-8241. 


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