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PIA2: End & Article
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O Projeto PIA2 termina hoje. Leia o último artigo:
"Empreendedorismo e Gestão de Projetos"

PIA2 Project ends today, read the last article:"Entrepreneurship and Project Management

Project Management practice can complement Entrepreneurship ideas, as both make appeal to the capacity of making things happen according to plans, defend behaviours of autonomy and responsibility and highlight the need to innovate to reach success.
- It facilitates skills related to team work and networking
- It promotes planning skills, that are based in projection and anticipation
- It induces to creativity and innovation
- It gives the capacity to identifying possibilities and to follow an idea until the end
- And finally, it brings the acceptance of life as a continuous learning process

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1.  Introduction

Entrepreneurship became in recent years a main topic in political, economical and educational agenda. This can be explained by several reasons, among which the urgent need to reinvent the axes of development of countries and nations, facing now-a-days either social and economical crisis or stagnation.

At a smaller scale, the one of the individual or of the communities, entrepreneurship means the possibility of “having a job” by the creation of his/her own work / business and of “skill fulfilment” by allowing people to put into practice what they have been trained for. This is specially the case of a young generation for whom the work market is characterized by scarce qualified opportunities and jobs with little sense of security (short term contracts and low payments justified with trials, internships and/or inexperience of the candidate).

Therefore to be an entrepreneur represents a “way out” at the same time that it gives “status”. The advocacy, publicity and success examples have made of the entrepreneurs the new adventurers, leaders and role models.

Nevertheless, we know that not all stories give space to fame and fortune, entrepreneurs work a lot, fail as many times as they succeed, which leads us to defend that probably entrepreneurship should be thought in a more open way, going beyond the idea of creating one’s own business / work, to a way of being and acting within society, economy and politics. Some aspects that should be put at the centre of any action to induce and create space for entrepreneurship learning should focus on the process in order to accept other outcomes:

Entrepreneurship is an activity that involves the discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities to introduce new goods and services, ways of organizing, markets, process, and raw materials through organizing efforts that previously had not existed” (Venkataraman, 1997; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000).

“Entrepreneurship refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. This supports everyone in day-to-day life at home and in society, makes employees more aware of the context of their work and better able to seize opportunities, and provides a foundation for entrepreneurs establishing a social or commercial activity”. (European Commission 2006).

2.  Existing entrepreneurship programs in Portugal

Programs aiming to promote and teach entrepreneurship have become more and more common, both within formal education framework, from secondary education to higher education, but also aside in certified, advanced and specialized training for the active population to complement or improve skills.

In 2011, Pimpão (2011) counted 338 curricular units about entrepreneurship in the Portuguese Superior Education offer and 27 thematic training courses. One remarkable tendency is that, more and more, this issue appears connected to several professional areas, apart from business management. Pinho and Gaspar (2012), in a study on the Polytechnic universe discover that “over 70% of the students expressed a positive desire to create their own business”, and rates are higher in studies where the curricular plan includes disciplines of entrepreneurship and marketing.

However, the same authors state also that “the Polytechnic Institute is neither supporting nor encouraging the creation of enterprises by students”. This gives reason to those who defend that entrepreneurship trainning should start in early school years, because the complex combination of skills and capacities take time to consolidate and in early stages of life we are more permeable to change and novelty.

The advantages of the experiences undertaken have convinced many schools to adhere to the diversity of challenges and programmes promoted by ministries, public institutes, private non-profit associations and even entrepreneurship business focus on this issue as their main product/service. We will identify here only some of these programmes, as the myriad of initiatives is much wider:

2.1.  Junior Achievement Portugal

Non-profit NGO representing in Portugal the world organism, since 2005. They offer practical training programmes targeted to each educational level (primary, secondary and university) as well as national level competitions. This is the most famous and spread out.


2.2.  Programa Escolas Empreendedoras

This initiative of DNA Cacais in partnership with Gesentrepreneur, targets secondary schools of Cascais, training teachers and promoting a contest. With 8 editions, it worked with 220 teachers, 7.000 students and 14 schools.


2.3.  Interministerial Governmental Programs

Several programs assuming the form of support or contest have been promoted by the governmental institutions to promote, recognize and compensate entrepreneurship skills and attitudes, finding the best proposals and ideas. However, rarely they go into the teaching and training. The most known are the INOV and INOVA programs.


2.4. Setubal Polytechnic Institute: “IPS Junior Challenge“  

Started in 2011, it promotes to secondary schools students training workshops followed with contest of ideas and projects.  


2.5.  Platform for Entrepreneurship Education in Portugal

This organization focuses both on actions in schools for teaching and training, but also on framework and assessment tools development.


3.  Best practice

All the above can be considered best practices. To measure its real value would demand a deep study that would analyse both immediate impacts and results, but mostly a longitudinal impact that measures changes and results both in school context and in the personal life stories of the youngsters.

From our point of view, some traits of these programmes are of best interest to assure the success in education mission of training excellent professionals and citizens, but also a sustainable and continuous learning process at individual and group level:

  1. To make of entrepreneurship a regular issue and practice, by giving spaces for training and practicing at several stages of life. This means there are workshops of disciplines voted to this issue but also practical missions and projects that allow the application, assimilation and adaptation of entrepreneurship to one’s personality, aspirations and needs;
  1. To focus on social and individual skills as these take longer to acquire and consolidate, like team work, ideas developing and presentation, assertiveness, changing perspective capacity, among others;
  1. To encourage and forward entrepreneurs later in a young adult age for the learning of technical and precise skills on project management or on business management, according to their profile and their entrepreneurship ideas, as not all entrepreneurs will make a new business, some might develop ideas, community projects, events, social services, etc.

4.  Strengths and weaknesses

All these programmes are fundamental as they create a good ‘environment’ around entrepreneurship: it is considered to be a positive attitude and personality; it is welcomed within professional sector both for workers as much as for partners, it is a plus in a CV and it is considered a source of motivation, satisfaction and self-esteem.

This daily proximity to entrepreneurship makes a possible and reachable goal for an adolescent or a young adult still building a life project that will surely change several times. Entrepreneurship will not be an exceptional “ending” to exceptional persons.

On the other hand, the main weaknesses of these programmes are related with its articulation and framework. Most of them are not being subject to any intent of articulation or communication effort, and without this openness there are less conditions for exchange, improvement and best practice identification to happen. This means that many times they cannot create synergies and have a wider impact and public recognition. Or that complementary actions are not possible. Knowing entrepreneurship learning cannot separate theory from practice, the meeting of programmes that focus in one of the aspects would be an advantage for a holistic approach to this issue.

Finally, there is a need of public clarification of the theoretical framework of entrepreneurship, as this is mainly happening at academic investigation level. The definition of entrepreneurship at the level of skills, objectives, attitudes, context of application would be a major contribute for support entrepreneurship at the whole society level, making thus the mission of schools and other educative actors much easier.

Many myths and mistakes are still quite common regarding entrepreneurs, like the idea that entrepreneurship will bring either failure or fortune, that entrepreneurs are aggressive, risk favourable or that they are not team players motivated solely by money. For instance, it would facilitate and sponsor initiative in other domains apart from business and it would alleviate the guilt and bad feelings around those who fail, valuing the process and the attempt.

5.  Which possibilities has Project Management to create a learning environment in which students can develop entrepreneurship competences?

Project Management practice can complement Entrepreneurship ideas, as both make appeal to the capacity of making things happen according to plans, defend behaviours of autonomy and responsibility and highlight the need to innovate to reach success.

But one should not forget that there is a strong separating element between both, that relates to the involvement and sense of ownership. Entrepreneurship has for focus, as objective and mission, an idea represented by a service or a product of main interest and controlled by the entrepreneur. Project management is focused on objectives defined aiming problems previously identified and analysed. These objectives usually give rise to a service or a product, that can be feasible or not, and that sometimes have no special meaning, emotional or professional, to the people in charge of it, who sometimes have little power to decide or change, independently of being or not entrepreneur.

After the PIA2 experience in Portuguese schools, the main contributions that Project Management in the context of vocational school can bring to the acquisition and consolidation of entrepreneurial skills are:

  1. Facilitates skills related to team work and networking, as a mean to obtain not only different opinions and perspectives, but also support, sponsor or several resources that make ideas feasible: communication, negotiation, tolerance and understanding of the other, delegation, coordination,…
  1. Promotes planning skills, that are based in projection and anticipation, of what will happen if it is done this way, the risk associated with this option, who will be affected by these needs / results. This abstract reflection skills are fundamental for problem solving, flexibility, improvisation, decision making…
  1. The encounter with limitations in PM of several orders – time, human resources, equipments, financial resources – induces to creativity and innovation, as thinking out of the box, considering as possibilities the impossible or what was never done / thought.
  1. The capacity to identifying possibilities and to follow an idea until the end, meaning, PM teaches how to analyze an idea, see its potential, exploit its possibilities, plan its development in a sequential and organized way. This is fundamental because many great ideas fall half way because they cannot be well presented and defended to collect support or because there is no leadership or plan to make them happen.
  1. And finally, the acceptance of life as a continuous learning process that starts from problems and challenges and makes us search for and/or create ideas, solutions and strategies, forcing us to go into new knowledge acquisition and territories, crossing and fertilizing all of them. As Dolabela (2003) states, an entrepreneurial pedagogy, and it is here that we can find an overlap with PM pedagogy, defines the entrepreneur as someone capable of generating new knowledge from a given platform made of accumulated life knowledge that belongs to individual and that are the called four pillars of education – learn to learn, learn to do, learn to behave and learn to be.

6.  References

Carvalho, Luísa; Costa, Teresa & Mares, Pedro (2013). “Parcerias para o Empreendedorismo entre o Ensino Superior e o Ensino Secundário: o Caso do Programa IPS Junior Challenge”. URL: (30/09/2014).

European Commission (2006). Implementing the Community Lisbon Programme: Fostering entrepreneurial mindsets through education and learning. (COM(2006) 33 final. Brussels, 13.2.2006). URL: (30/09/2014).

Pereira, Francisco (2011). “Empreendedorismo no Ensino Superior” (PPT presentation). URL: (30/09/2014).

Pimpão, Anabela (2011). “A Formação Superior em Empreendedorismo em Portugal: Mapeamento e Análise Comparativa” (PHD Thesis).URL: (30/09/2014).

Pinho, Luís & Gaspar, Fernando (2012). “Intenção Empreendedora dos Estudantes no Ensino Superior Politécnico em Portugal”. URL: (30/09/2014).