Experiential Learning, Behavioural Competencies, and Entrepreneurial Intentions

  • School: Nottingham Business School
  • Starting: 2019
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


Entrepreneurial intention is “a self-acknowledged conviction by a person who intends to set up a new business venture and consciously plans to do so at some point in the future” (Thompson 2009: 676). Such intention is important, because scholars have demonstrated that the preference for self-employment is an important indicator of actual involvement in new venture creation.
Because entrepreneurs face complex, emergent, multifaceted problems in resolving uncertainty and exploiting opportunities, they require a set of competencies that enable them to activate the appropriate behaviors in various situations. In particular, emotional, social, and cognitive competencies have been highlighted as critical to many key entrepreneurial processes.
Accordingly, those persons who are endowed with such competencies may believe they will be better prepared to meet those challenges, and may exhibit stronger entrepreneurial intentions.

Due to the nature of competencies, experiential learning (Kolb 1998) is likely to be critical to their development, especially if the experience is developed in the workplace (Sørensen and Fassiotto 2011).

Recognizing the importance of experiential learning for the development of work-related competencies, NTU and many other universities, allow students to perform extended internships as part of their academic curriculum. Casual observation suggests that those internships raise students’ motivation and academic performance above those of students who did not take advantage of such experiential learning opportunity. However, this intuition needs to be corroborated by more rigorous investigations. Moreover, the effect of the learning experience needs to be purged from the effect of confounders such as individual and environmental factors. Furthermore, it needs to be established whether the internship also affects entrepreneurial intentions.
The type of curricula that exist at NTU allows implementing quasi-experimental research designs, or well-matched comparison group designs that are reasonably powerful for establishing possible evidence of the learning experience effectiveness.
Complemented with qualitative investigations, such quantitative investigations would yield valuable insights into how universities can foster entrepreneurship among students.

Similar methods can be applied to the same research settings for inquiring into the effect of internships (and of other forms of experiential training enacted within an academic context) on other work-related competencies an attitudes, and academic outcomes. Predictably, this research program may produce a suite of interesting studies at the intersection of entrepreneurship research and pedagogic design.


Kolb, J.A. 1998. The Relationship between Self-Monitoring and Leadership in Student Project Groups. Journal of Business Communication 35(2) 264-282.

Sørensen, J.B., M.A. Fassiotto. 2011. Organizations as Fonts of Entrepreneurship. Organization Science 22(5) 1322-1331.
Thompson, E.R. 2009. Individual Entrepreneurial Intent: Construct Clarification and Development of an Internationally Reliable Metric. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 33(3) 669-694.


Dr Marco Furlotti

Entry qualifications

An applicant for admission to read for a PhD should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university or an equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a Master's degree at Merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.

International students will also need to meet the English language requirements - IELTS 6.5 (with minimum sub-scores of 6.0). Applicants who have taken a higher degree at a UK university are normally exempt from the English language requirements. A research proposal (between 1,000 and a maximum of 2,000 words) must be submitted as part of the application.

For more information please visit the NTU Doctoral School – Research Degrees webpages.

How to apply

Applications are accepted all year round.

Download an application form here.
Please make sure you take a look at our application guidance notes before making your application.

Further information on how to apply can be found on this page.

Fees and funding

This is a self-funded PhD opportunity.

Guidance and support

Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.

Still need help?

Marco Furlotti