Bringing “Context” to Entrepreneurship Education

World of Work October 12, 2016

In 2012, Gallup-Silatech’s joint publication used an exciting title: ‘Qatar’s rising entrepreneurial spirit’. Indeed, the past few years have witnessed a fast paced rise and thickening of Qatar’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Qatar’s dynamic entrepreneurial spirit has involved frequent events, training programs, and the participation of multiple actors collaborating in the goal of raising new Qatari entrepreneurs to the realization of Qatar National Vision 2030. 

The objective of this short essay is to spark discussion on the importance of context in entrepreneurship education, as well as to share some observations on Qatar’s dynamic entrepreneurship ecosystem and its evolution.  My core premise is that entrepreneurship (and its education) is an embedded process, and that bringing “context” to entrepreneurship education is crucial. Although an entrepreneur is inherently an individual, entrepreneurship educators should be aware of the forms of sociality, spatiality, and community as well as the various unique conventions, codes, and symbols that a localized culture reflects and embraces.

Entrepreneurship as an Embedded Process

As a social process, entrepreneurship is embedded in this non-economic, cultural sphere. For instance, a common depiction of entrepreneurship rests on individual motivations and behavior. But is the individual the only agent involved in the entrepreneurship process?  Of course, the entrepreneur is usually the individual seeking opportunities and identifying possibilities observed in the environment, and even in certain cases creating those opportunities. But the entrepreneurial process involves a mentally demanding preparatory stage that precedes putting ideas into action. Effective, culturally astute entrepreneurship evolves as the individual endeavor starts to connect with those other contexts and structures mentioned earlier. The transformative power of entrepreneurship emerges through its collective nature in this phase. 

The collective nature of entrepreneurship refers to the role of historically established cultural characteristics of tribe, community, and society. Effective entrepreneurs need to be well-informed about the realities and dynamics of these social structures. Successful entrepreneurs should more actively embrace social objectives by mobilizing and linking social and economic resources. In pursuing a balance between social justice and economic profit, entrepreneurs can unleash more innovative and creative undertakings; community building and profit making can go hand in hand.

Implications for Qatar

Studying effective entrepreneurship education that is embedded in local cultural contexts supports Qatar’s development goals. The Qatar National Vision 2030 aims at “transforming Qatar into an advanced country… capable of sustaining its own development and providing for a high standard of living for all of its people for generations to come” (QNV, 2008: 2). The human, social, environmental, and economic pillars of the QNV 2030 reflect the value and importance of a unique, embedded cultural context. 

The QNV 2030 provides a unique roadmap for the nation’s growth, and it can guide our study of entrepreneurship education policy in Qatar. The QNV 2030, for example, clearly states the need to balance modernization with tradition. Entrepreneurs, at their most individualistic, can play a key role in building private sector-led dynamism. But entrepreneurs need to embrace the social and cultural forces that can mediate purely economic objectives. As educators, we can seek a moral framework to support entrepreneurship that is responsive to these forces. Such a framework would explore the interaction of the global with the local, and of modernization with the traditional.

As Qatar’s entrepreneurship ecosystem expands and deepens, identifying and examining these interactions is important in bridging the nation’s transition to a diversified, knowledge-based, and globally competitive economy. 


In Qatar educators and authorities from a range of fields are invited to discuss and debate the moral basis of entrepreneurship for a fairer world. Qatar’s National Vision 2030 underscores the importance of the process. Our task is to conduct more applied research on how these processes can support entrepreneurship education and other pedagogies, and produce teaching materials. We need to remember that non-economic variables are embedded in economic behavior. This calls for a deconstructing and reconstructing of the relationship between moral values and the role of the community, social institutions, economy, markets, and entrepreneurship.  We can start by focusing primarily on the importance of local context in supporting entrepreneurship.