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Training for lifestyle entrepreneurs : what works?

Dalglish, Carol L. (2008) Training for lifestyle entrepreneurs : what works? In Gillin, L. Murray (Ed.) 5th AGSE International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, 5 – 8 February, 2008, Melbourne, Australia.

Abstract

Principal Topic:

Many developed countries have issues with the movement of populations away from rural areas. This is often caused by the lack of career opportunities for the young as a result of the decline in rural industries and the inability of farming to provide a sufficiently high standard of living. There has been an active move towards 'value adding' in rural areas and in particular the development of tourism activities, to counter this trend. There is an additional challenge, in that many rural entrepreneurs are what might be called 'lifestyle' entrepreneurs (Alsos, Ljunggren & Pettersen 2007), whose capacity to contribute to local economic development is not well documented.

The purpose of this paper is to document the curriculum development process that was engaged in, in the design, delivery and outcomes of a programme designed to encourage and equip rural entrepreneurs to extend into the tourism and hospitality industries. These entrepreneurs operate in Hedmark Region of Norway and the training took place in Brisbane, Australia. The programme was substantially funded by Innovation Norway.

Methodology/Key Propositions:

The development and delivery of the training programme took place in Norway and Australia.

The methodology is qualitative and it is hoped the research will lead to a longitudinal study of the impact of lifestyle entrepreneurs on local economic development in rural areas. Qualitative research has the strength of providing rich data, directly from the entrepreneurs themselves. The action research process that was engaged in means that the entrepreneurs themselves are active participants in the research and the quality of their feedback and willingness to discuss their changed behaviour are critical to both evaluating the impact of the programme and the potential for further study on the economic impact of their activities.

The development process and the nature of the curriculum used for these entrepreneurs may well provide insights into effective training for lifestyle entrepreneurs in other contexts. The participants were asked to evaluate the programme immediately on its conclusion and six months after the programme when they were interviewed in their place of operation. Their insights into the benefits of the training received, including its location in an unfamiliar and exotic setting, provide an insight into the difficulties faced by micro-enterprises in rural areas, many of which were not identified by the participants prior to the training.

The development process included two visits to the location in which the entrepreneurs were establishing their enterprises, discussion with local economic development staff and a group of local entrepreneurs. This provided the data for the design of the curriculum which included targeted classroom sessions, site visits, experiential learning and small group coaching.

Results and Implications:

Little is known about the potential for growth of lifestyle entrepreneurs, despite the growing number in rural areas of developed countries. Innovation Norway had an explicit desired outcome for the programme and that was to encourage individual entrepreneurs, known for their independence, to work together. The evaluations undertaken both immediately after the programme and 6 months later provide interesting reflections on what was considered the most effective learning strategy as well as the practical outcomes of the programme.

  • The experiential learning, that is being put in the place of their potential customers proved an effective way to learn. - Participants would have liked more coaching - that is being helped to relate their learning to their particular situations. - The greatest benefit from the programme was the social and business network that was established and which was having a multiplier effect in the community. - Participants were much more conscious of the need to be specific in identifying who their customer was and tailoring the products and services to particular markets. - Participants indicated an interest in being part of a longitudinal study into the impact of their businesses on local economic activity.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 15295
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Training, Lifestyle
ISBN: 9780980332834
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Business and Management not elsewhere classified (150399)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 22 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:45

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