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Explorative Behavior and Personal Agency in Arts Entrepreneurship Education

  • Ben Toscher Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Keywords: arts entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurial learning, personal agency, explorative behavior, Gioia methodology


The majority of learning in arts entrepreneurship education is experiential (Essig & Guevara, 2016). Experiential and entrepreneurial learning theories indicate that to facilitate entrepreneurial knowledge generation which “enables [entrepreneurs] to recognize and act on entrepreneurial opportunities and to organize and manage new ventures” (Politis, 2005, p. 400), individuals need to exercise personal agency and engage in explorative behavior (Kolb & Kolb, 2009; Politis, 2005). If arts entrepreneurship education is to help students generate such entrepreneurial knowledge, arts entrepreneurship educators should create learning environments in which their students can exercise personal agency and behave exploratively. Despite this, how students exercise personal agency and explore within arts entrepreneurship education has not been empirically studied. This empirical paper attempts to answer the following question: How do students explore and exercise personal agency in arts entrepreneurship education? Using rigor to systematically analyze qualitative data (Gioia et al., 2013) from a five-week course in entrepreneurship in higher music education to produce a data structure and model, I find that within a teacher-created learning environment, students balance personal factors (their values and beliefs, habitual modes of thought, prior experience and personal goals) against social factors (social interdependencies and conditions of approval) while taking actions to reduce uncertainty. The findings imply that teacher-created learning environments and engagement in social contexts influences how students exercise personal agency and explore.


Author Biography

Ben Toscher, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Ben Toscher is currently in his final year of his PhD at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. As a member of SFU Engage (, a research center dedicated to engaged education through entrepreneurship, Ben has researched arts entrepreneurship education -- specifically, entrepreneurial learning and entrepreneurship education in the contexts of higher music education and arts education. His work has been published in international peer-reviewed journals such as Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, The International Journal of Education and the Arts, and Social Enterprise Journal.

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