Original Research

Internships enhancing entrepreneurial intent and self-efficacy: Investigating tertiary-level entrepreneurship education programmes

Melodi Botha, Alex Bignotti
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 8, No 1 | a45 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v8i1.45 | © 2016 Alex Bignotti | This work is licensed under Other
Submitted: 14 March 2016 | Published: 29 September 2016

About the author(s)

Melodi Botha, Department of Business Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Alex Bignotti, Department of Business Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Entrepreneurship education interventions are deemed effective when they enhance interns’ entrepreneurial intent (EI) and entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE). Notwithstanding the emergence of internship as an experiential learning approach in entrepreneurship education, evidence about their potential to foster EI and ESE lacks systemisation.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether internships enhance EI and ESE. Furthermore, to what extent South African tertiary institutions include internships in their entrepreneurship and management curricula and the obstacles to such inclusion.

Setting: South Africa has made a concerted effort to insert an entrepreneurship component across tertiary curricula. The evolution of this entrepreneurship component to experiential learning approaches is, however, unclear.

Methods: A qualitative research approach was followed. Firstly, it reviewed empirical evidence for the positive relationship between internships and EI and ESE. Secondly, it conducted a survey of entrepreneurship and business management programmes at all 23 South African tertiary institutions and content analysed the retrieved information to determine whether such programmes include internships. Finally, 10 experts were interviewed to unveil the constraints inhibiting the inclusion of internships in tertiary curricula.

Results: The results revealed empirical support for the positive influence of internships on both EI and ESE. Significant lack of inclusion of internships in tertiary curricula in South Africa emerged, owing mainly to administrative issues, curriculum re-design challenges, and lack of mentoring capacity.

Conclusion: Tertiary-level entrepreneurship education programmes should include an internship component. The paper suggested that tertiary institutions pilot-test the inclusion of internships with a small number of students and a selected cohort of small business owners.


Internships, Entrepreneurial Intent, Self-Efficacy, Entrepreneurship Education, Experiential Learning, Tertiary Education, University, Curriculum, Entrepreneurship, Business Management.


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Crossref Citations

1. Influence of the entrepreneur's capacity in business performance
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doi: 10.1002/bse.2757