Entrepreneurialism in Higher Education in Ethiopia: A Comparative Study of Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar Universities

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Addis Ababa University


The purpose of this study was to explore the entrepreneurial proximity of Higher Education Institutions in Ethiopia. Accordingly, two public universities namely, Addis Ababa University (AAU) and Bahir Dar University (BDU) were included in the study, considering the former as the only oldest, largest flagship university in the country, and the later for its largeness and oldness (as seen from the founding institute and college perspectives). As entrepreneurial activities in universities are primarily expected to start flourishing in the business schools, science and engineering related fields, the sources of data were determined to be leadership members at the university level, and documents, there in, the colleges/ institutes specifically related to business and engineering. Thus, the sample population was drawn among the office holders of the case universities i.e. from: (a) the university level, (b) Colleges of business and Economics, and (c) Institutes of Technologies using a convenient, purposive and random sampling techniques. A total of 92 samples (46 from each university) were drawn to take part in the study. Instruments such as questionnaires, interviews, documents and observation schedules were employed to gather data. In all variables, quantitative comparisons were made on the basis of the questionnaire data, and textual comparisons on the basis of the qualitative ones. Data from the latter source reveal that the exerted efforts by both institutions towards testing their boundaries prove that they are valuing entrepreneurial orientation than the conservative positions and stabilities. However, the assessment of performance proximities of case study universities towards entrepreneurialism, as seen from the traditional-entrepreneurial spectrum (Soft-Hard category) put their respective locations to lie with high density near the traditional spectrum but follow to the entrepreneurial paradigm with a corresponding decrease in concentration, and with minor favor to AAU. Especially, the possible explanations for the observed variations on performances are to be originated from the largeness of AAU, long standing reputations and age. However, the quantitative analyses, rather, provided the clear picture of comparisons. Accordingly, independent samples t-test which was administered to find out the multidimensional result of each construct; and the MANOVA test for the uni-dimensional results did not indicate for the presence of statistically significant differences on entrepreneurial orientation variable among universities. Similarly, entrepreneurial performances do not vary between both case study universities. All these suggest that both universities are at about equal footing in relation to entrepreneurial performances. The results of the regression analysis made to identify the predicting effects of entrepreneurial orientation, organizational environment, and entrepreneurial environment on performance reveal that ‘organizational entrepreneurial environment’ was the statistically strong predictor of performance in AAU, while the roles of Entrepreneurial Orientation and External entrepreneurial environment are found to be statistically significant predictors of performance in BDU. Similarly, the predicting effects of organizational environment, external environment and entrepreneurial performance on the entrepreneurial orientation reveal that the variable of ‘Organizational Environment’ tends to have a statistically significant contribution to ‘Entrepreneurial Orientation’ in both universities. Further, the entrepreneurial ecosystem in case study universities reveals the relative supportiveness of the internal environments for entrepreneurship. In addition, the external environment of AAU and BDU are found to be not as hard as to be a threat; or as comfortable as to be relaxed from taking up of entrepreneurial measures rather complex which call for entrepreneurial coping mechanisms. Nevertheless, signs of strong entrepreneurial coping mechanisms tend to be absenting; and improvement of internal capabilities toward entrepreneurialism seem to be missing at both universities. From the findings recommendations are forwarded for policy-makers across the board, be they governmental policy-makers; university leaders, practitioners and beneficiaries; the industry, and the civil society at large which calls for further scanning of the internal and external entrepreneurial eco-system, not only to appreciate the potential dynamism, hostility and heterogeneity but also to put in place systems like strengthening the breadth and depth of the knowledge transfer approaches; to be engaged beyond the softer entrepreneurial performances rather to the consideration of harder entrepreneurial performances with full energy, including designing diversified measures to the generation of new revenues that align with the institutional mission and culture