When the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation first asked whether the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN) would consider making mindset research one of its flagship projects, we weren't certain that such a vast subject could be tackled successfully. We were wrong.
The extraordinary depth and breadth of the underlying research were evident during presentations by Immanuel Commarmond, the project lead, and Professor Kelly Shaver, the academic lead, at the March Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg.
The new survey instrument, currently being conducted among the general population in South Africa, is groundbreaking – it incorporates all the known factors, and where none existed before, they have created new ones. The study is state-of-the-art, comprehensive of all factors and grounded in the cumulative academic theory to date.
The results hold the promise of making a deep contribution to the understanding of how entrepreneur support policies, programs, and initiatives can be designed better to help people realize their entrepreneurial potential.
As part of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, GERN reaches entrepreneurs, policymakers, investors, and entrepreneur support program leaders in more than 170 countries across the globe. Our goal is for the Mindset Survey become the global standard. We would like to see it employed by as wide variety of actors for as wide variety of purposes as possible.
On this, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and those who agree to support a national survey of South Africa are leading the way. Stay tuned for the announcement of the full literature review and the results from the South African survey in November.
This South Africa national mindset survey demonstrates to key entrepreneurship ecosystem actors around the world how the instrument can be used to benchmark an entire nation. For policymakers, investors, program leaders, and researchers, a clear and comprehensive snapshot of mindset conditions as they exist today sets a valuable baseline for measuring and assessing scientifically the impact of future policy and program interventions in this area.
A general population baseline empowers program leaders and researchers to use the instrument to monitor, evaluate, and assess the efficacy of individual interventions (such as a particular education or training program, an accelerator or incubator, etc.) by comparing cohorts to the population (and, down the road when enough data is amassed, to one another). It will also empower them to develop data-driven individualized entrepreneurial profiles of their participants, which can be compared to the general population.
Used widely in these ways, we would all learn whether policies and programs are producing the desired mindset outcomes, enabling these leaders to make course corrections where necessary. As the mindset study is replicated in other geographies and settings, it will serve start and scale communities by (1) building a shared understanding of what is meant by “entrepreneurial mindset”; (2) introducing a data-based system for measuring progress objectively and assessing mindset development over time; (3) revealing new insights; and (4) providing an evidence-based framework for developing policy and program recommendations.
As a global network dedicated to increasing entrepreneurial action around the world, we know that to develop coherent plans for building thriving and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems we first need to understand what drives people to start their own firms and whether their communities foster or hinder successful entrepreneurship.
These are among today’s big unanswered questions that we seek to inspire new clusters of institutions and funders to join us in pursuing the new knowledge necessary to unleash a new wave of entrepreneurship.