Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirement of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


It is broadly agreed that entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in economic and societal development. Supporting entrepreneurship has become a global phenomenon, and governments and policy makers have paid increasing attention to it. Yet, despite such policy developments, the OCED (2019) has identified that several communities (including women, youth, seniors, unemployed and immigrants) remain disadvantaged and under-represented in entrepreneurial activity. Inclusive entrepreneurship policies recognise the significant economic and social contribution these communities could make if greater encouragement and appropriate support was offered. This study investigates the supportive role that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can play in strengthening social inclusion through inclusive entrepreneurship. In a novel contribution, the study broadens the perspective of entrepreneurship to enterprising behaviour which has a wider meaning and broader relevance beyond economic matters. The research was conducted through a single, in-depth revelatory case study of an Irish HEI that is newly constituted and developing an inner-city campus with a focus on community benefit. Rich qualitative data were collected through 15 semi-structured interviews and participant observation of a HEI community engagement initiative with disadvantaged communities. Thematic analysis methods were used in the processes of generating codes, categories and themes leading to the findings of this study. The study identified the relevance of the enterprising behaviour concept for disadvantaged communities as a potential bridge to entrepreneurial activity. Moreover, the study identified an expanded and more inclusive role for HEIs in supporting entrepreneurial potential within disadvantaged communities. As an original contribution to knowledge, the findings were synthesised with recognised constructs from the fields of (1) HEI Community Engagement, (2) Entrepreneurial Education and (3) Disadvantaged Communities in the presentation of an evidence-based framework to support HEIs in the development of inclusive, tailored entrepreneurial education initiatives. The framework suggests several guidelines for HEIs in this regard. In addition to several policy recommendations, this study lays the foundations for future research on the expanded role of HEIs within entrepreneurial ecosystems