Does the United States have an edge over the rest of the world in entrepreneurship?
This question was the primary topic of the most recent international videoconference held Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Tusculum College.
Students in the college’s Business Club and the Study Abroad and Global Awareness (SAGA) organization along with faculty from the School of Business had the opportunity to discuss the environment for entrepreneurship in Europe, Africa and the United States with students from a university in Norway.
“This is a good opportunity for the students at both schools to discuss entrepreneurship and hear different perspectives on it,” said Dr. Geir Bergvin, associate professor of marketing and director of the Center for Global Studies at Tusculum.
Participating from the university in Norway were students in an international marketing class from 12 different nations, including England, Russia, Ghana and Denmark in addition to Norway.
Prior to the videoconference, both groups of students were asked to read the article, “The United States of Entrepreneurs: America still leads the world” from The Economist magazine, which served as a starting point for their transcontinental conversation. The article states that the United States does lead the world in entrepreneurism due to such factors as a culture that celebrates and encourages innovation and entrepreneurial risk taking, a well-developed venture capital investment industry, an open immigration policy and a close relationship between higher education and industry.
Beginning their transatlantic conversation, the students at Tusculum and in Norway both agreed that the article was biased towards the United States. With the acknowledgement of that fact, Tusculum student Luis Zamora, who is a native of Chile, asked the students in Norway to describe how entrepreneurship is encouraged in each of their countries.
One of the students from Denmark responded that programs exist in that country to assist entrepreneurs in starting a business through which they receive legal, marketing and management counsel. Another student from Denmark said that people are being encouraged to start new businesses. Both said that there are limited funds available from the government.
This exchange was typical of the videoconference as the students shared their knowledge and experiences with each other.
Dr. Bergvin served as facilitator for the conference, asking the students questions about various issues raised in the article, such as whether the article made a valid point in its assertion that individuals in other nations, particularly in Europe, have more to lose if an entrepreneurial venture fails.
A student from Ghana said that people in his nation are deterred from entrepreneurism because of the fear of bankruptcy. Students from Europe agreed that laws about bankruptcy in some countries do affect the willingness of individuals to take the risk of starting their own business.
Funds for starting entrepreneurial businesses typically come from individuals or banks in their native countries, but there is not widespread governmental support, the students from Norway said.
Tusculum students noted that there is governmental support through tax cuts and other programs that assist entrepreneurs in the United States. The students also discussed the tendency for individuals with capital making decisions to invest in ventures in their local community or region.
The decision by students graduating college to start their own businesses or even start them in college as a response to the global economic recession and the lack of job availability was noted by students in both groups as another reason for the rise of entrepreneurship.
The videoconference took place in Tusculum’s newest distance learning classroom, which is equipped with multiple flat display screens, audio equipment, cameras and laptops.
International videoconferences are scheduled throughout the year through the Center for Global Studies to give students the opportunity to interact with students from other countries on various topics. Conferences have been held for students in specific courses or for students in a particular major.