Board 274: Engineering Students Definitions of and Perceptions of Entrepreneurial Failure

Thomas M. Katona, Sarah E. Zappe, Cade Robert Creason

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This paper focuses on how former collegiate student entrepreneurs define failure and compares their definitions with how academic literature has traditionally defined entrepreneurial failure. The article examines the context by which collegiate student entrepreneurs, and more specifically student entrepreneurs who studied an engineering discipline, start their venture, and how that influences their perceptions of what entrepreneurial failure is. Entrepreneurial failure and its importance to the field of entrepreneurship is discussed almost as frequently as entrepreneurial success. In fact, learning from failure and learning to fail quickly as a means to assist in advancing toward success are often discussed as fundamental key attributes of successful entrepreneurs. Despite this, factors that influence and contribute to entrepreneurial success and how to increase entrepreneurial success through support mechanisms are far more understood than methods that would help support entrepreneurs in learning from failure, or finding ways to fail early and often in a way that helps them as opposed to discouraging or demoralizing them. Given the rapid increase and interest within colleges of engineering in introducing and exposing students to entrepreneurial experiences, and also in developing programs that help students start entrepreneurial ventures, it is timely to better understand the experiences of these student entrepreneurs, particularly the largest percentage of them who started ventures that failed. While the importance of learning from failure is often repeated in the literature, this paper highlights distinct differences between how collegiate entrepreneurs define failure, compared with more traditionally researched non-collegiate entrepreneurs, and also outlines how the various contexts by which students become involved in an entrepreneurial endeavor influences their perception of how failure is defined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering

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