Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
School of Education
Patrick Allen, PhD
Terry Huffman, PhD
Ginny Birky, PhD
This dissertation aims to understand and elucidate the journeys of educational entrepreneurs in the K-12 education space. This qualitative investigation was motivated by three research questions: (1) What are some of the instigating, contributing, and continuing factors that motivate a business or an educational professional toward educational entrepreneurship? (2) How do the studied individuals describe and analyze their journeys from professionals to edupreneurs, and what were key turning points along the way? (3) How can individual stories of educational entrepreneurs help illuminate the topics surrounding educational reform, student and community needs, and teacher professionalism? To date, the literature examining educational entrepreneurship remains sparse, and this dissertation attempts to provide greater understanding regarding this specialized nexus of the business and educational fields.
The research considered and described the phenomenological experience of educational entrepreneurship, presenting it in narrative form organized by significant themes derived from the semi-structured interviews of five experienced entrepreneurs. The resulting interview data was condensed into five significant themes: (1) The nature of the niche; (2) The world of business versus the world of education; (3) Challenges, epiphanies, and bumps in the road; (4) Educational entrepreneurship; (5) Lessons learned and hard-earned advice.
The major findings from the research indicate that edupreneurs tend to enter entrepreneurship through the realization of a specific need or niche, and often find both challenge and reward in the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students. The space of educational entrepreneurship is idiosyncratically viewed as a nexus between the business and education worlds wherein entrepreneurs must develop deep understandings of the educational service or product, client(s), pacing, and growth/scaling potential. Edupreneurs offer unique perspectives to issues of school improvement and reform due to their unique entrepreneurial lens, a persistent focus on alternate approaches and niche solutions, the potential for universal solutions to problems, and the entrepreneurial tendency toward ongoing innovation and adaptation. This study provides support for the notion that educational entrepreneurs offer valuable experience and insight into both the practical and philosophical realms of education.
Nieswandt, Audrey, "Educational Entrepreneurs: The Professional Experiences of Five Edupreneurs" (2017). Doctor of Education (EdD). 93.