Re-Defining Entrepreneurship in the 21 Century:
An Academic Study

Entrepreneurship is the Skillset of the 21st Century

Unlike last century where you found a steady job with a stable company and got a paycheck for 20-30 years, in the 21st century, the job you trained for might not exist in 5 years, or even next year. The company you wanted to work for might not exist in a few years.
Today. you have to be responsible for your own career, and for your own job, and for your own success.

You have to be more self directed, more self sufficient, more resourceful and more flexible in the face of ambiguity and change. 

In the 21st century – even if you’re an employee – you have to act like an entrepreneur.

Teaching Entrepreneurial Skill Sets

Colleges, Universities and other organizations recognize that being an entrepreneur – or at least possessing entrepreneurial skills –  gives students a distinct advantage in their careers.

Developing entrepreneurial skills are certainly relevant if the student is going be a founder and start a company – but this is a rarity. Upon graduation, most students seek employment at established companies, rather than becoming a founder of a new company.

  • Does possessing a set of entrepreneurial competencies create an advantage for getting hired today? 
Conventional wisdom says “yes, of course”  – but what does the data say?  What’s does the evidence say?


We are a group of university entrepreneurship professors working on a study and a paper about “entrepreneur competencies.”

The skills and competencies that define successful entrepreneurs and successful employees have changed over many decades. 

  • Are Universities preparing students with the right competencies to thrive as entrepreneurs, and to thrive as employees, in the 21st century?
The study is exploring the question of which entrepreneurial skills (“competencies”) should be taught in universities – in order to better prepare students for careers in the 21st century. 

The Study

The study will collect and analyze contemporary data about skills and traits (competencies) typically associated with entrepreneurs. 

We will track whether having entrepreneurial traits is a significant positive (or negative) factor for successful employment. 

  • In other words – do people with strong entrepreneurial competencies make good employees? 

We’ll collect data from surveys of employers and hiring managers, as well as from entrepreneurs and job seekers. 

We’ll also analyze data from larger companies that have acquired ‘startups’ – who thus have converted the entrepreneurial founders into employees.

The Objectives

1. To understand which entrepreneurial competencies are most attractive to employers – in the 21st century.

2. To understand which entrepreneurial competencies are most relevant to starting a company in the 21st century.

3. To understand which entrepreneurial competencies are a negative factor for employers.

The Impact

We expect the results to indicate which entrepreneurial skillsets (competencies) should be taught in universities –  to better prepare students for the 21st century workplace.
We hope the results will provide meaningful insights to employers, about hiring candidates with strong entrepreneurial competencies.

Who is involved

The study is being conducted by 

Joanne Scillitoe, PhD
Inaugural Paul Jennings Chair in Entrepreneurship and a Professor of Management. at California State University, Northridge

S. Jimmy Gandhi, PhD
Associate Dean,
Tseng College of Graduate, International and Midcareer Education,
Associate Professor, Department of Manufacturing Systems Engineering & Management, California State University, Northridge
Christopher-John Cornell, PhD
Former Kauffman Professor of Entrepreneurship from Arizona State University 

Managing Director, Propel Ventures, LLC

Author – The Age of Metapreneurship, Co-Author – Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Follow Me: