In Hungary, prior to the regime change of 1989, there were almost no possibilities to start a private venture beside solely public employment, thus the private business sector was virtually missing in the country. As a consequence, there was hardly any trace of transferring modern marketing and management knowledge in higher education. Instead, business knowledge was transferred in the framework of the subject called Business Economics. It was present only in economics training; furthermore, it contained theories almost exclusively on large enterprises. Based on this we can conclude that we could not see even a sign of either the concept of entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship education in Hungary when western authors had already been conducting extensive research in the topic.
After the regime change, if it is possible to say that, the situation got even worse. Although it was allowed to start a business, but it resulted in a large number of enterprises established by people without either qualifications or knowledge in business. They were adventurers, much rather than business experts. However, as adventurers would normally do, they tried to exploit the opportunities, which were in abundance, as the new rule of law had several legally unregulated areas. In Hungary, the entrepreneurs of the 90s were characterised by rapidly making vast fortunes while circumventing legal frameworks. It meant that the social perception of “entrepreneur” was on the level of “maverick” and “mountebank”. At that time children used to say “My father does not have a job, he is just an entrepreneur”.
It all clearly shows that the education of entrepreneurship was an indefinable category in Hungary, since it was like wanting to teach “how to be the bad boy”. The first educational initiatives at university level can be found within the Faculties of Economics. However, it still was not called “entrepreneurship education”, but much rather “business development” (these two expressions sound similar in Hungarian, but have a slightly different meaning). In 2006, we can already find “Business Development” specialisations within economics courses. It is important to note that the education of Business Studies and Economics Studies are not separated in Hungary, the two areas are combined within the same training courses, and all of them equally give an “economist degree”.
Regarding the perception of the concept of entrepreneurship, the start-up ecosystem was the first to bring a substantially positive change in Hungary. By the 2010s, some globally successful Hungarian start-ups (e.g. Prezi.com) put the concept of entrepreneurship into a new perspective. Now it was no longer the dubious practices of “mavericks” but the creative activity of young, ambitious people. As the popularity of the start-up world grew rapidly, so did the interest increase among young people in related courses and knowledge. Entrepreneurship appeared first in the private sector, and then in tertiary education. Initially it was present only in Economics Faculties, and it has also gained ground in other fields – primarily in Engineering and Informatics – in the past years.
The PIETE project opens a gate to the next level of development in such environment. At this level we not only present the skills required for entrepreneurial life for today’s youth but we also provide the teachers of the future generation with such knowledge. The emergence of entrepreneurship in the Hungarian initial teacher education is a new chapter in the turbulently changing entrepreneurial history of the past 30 years. We hope that this chapter will be the first part of the success story of entrepreneurship.
Provided by: University of Szeged
Image credit: UIIN