Dissertation: Entrepreneurship promotion needs critical scrutiny


Piritta Parkkari, M.SSc., has written her doctoral thesis focusing on the practices of organisations that promote entrepreneurship. Parkkari argues that even though the promotion of entrepreneurship is often perceived as a self-evident goal, it should be analysed critically. The study shows that the promotion of entrepreneurship affects the way in which entrepreneurship is perceived. In addition, it influences people’s views regarding the preferred types of entrepreneurship. The study belongs to the field of management and organisation studies.

Today, entrepreneurship-related activities abound and entrepreneurship is widely discussed, especially when it comes to growth-oriented startups. However, Parkkari recommends reflexivity regarding the promotion of entrepreneurship – it is needed to recognise the opportunities the activity provides and those that it excludes. The author raises questions about who gets to promote entrepreneurship and what kinds of understandings of entrepreneurship are actually promoted.

The role of students and other young adults in the promotion of entrepreneurship has not been sufficiently addressed in the discussions. In her ethnographic study, Parkkari therefore examines Entrepreneurship Society organisations that have spread through Finland in recent years. As part of the Entrepreneurship Society activities, students and other young adults volunteer in arranging events and meetings dealing with entrepreneurship.

“I wanted to find out what student-led Entrepreneurship Societies are all about and what their activities tell us about the phenomenon of entrepreneurship and its cultural role. In my research, I observed and took part in the activities of these societies,” Parkkari says.

Parkkari noticed that the promotion of entrepreneurship is understood in a number of ways. For example, local development organisations may aim to create new companies and jobs, whereas student-led organisations may strive to bring people together and to create an entrepreneurial atmosphere.

According to the research, growth- and technology-centred startup entrepreneurship was considered an ideal mode of operation and it was advanced by the studied organisations.

“On the one hand, this ideal sustains stereotypical visions of entrepreneurship that emphasise heroic individuals, and on the other hand, it breaks the visions apart by stressing the importance of teams in entrepreneurship,” Parkkari notes.

While conducting the research, Parkkari noticed that Finnish students have become activated particularly in promoting startup entrepreneurship and that the members of the Entrepreneurship Society network see themselves as no less than a student-led social movement.

“It is interesting to notice that the students have chosen to engage in entrepreneurship instead of something else,” Parkkari continues.

The author also noticed that the millennial generation regards entrepreneurship as a way to change the world. The promoters of entrepreneurship wish to detach themselves from politics and believe that entrepreneurial action brings forth a greater change.

“The members of Entrepreneurship Societies are in fact people who believe in their own capability to change the world. The downside to believing that everything is in one’s own hands is that it may lead to situation where an individual’s entrepreneurial agency is overemphasised. This may result in individualizing both success and failure and forgetting that established practices affect a person’s ability to act,” Parkkari adds.

Parkkari noticed that entrepreneurship nevertheless brings along pleasant experiences such as belonging to a group, learning new things, meeting new people, and feeling that you are changing the world. The hands-on promotion of entrepreneurship thus makes it possible to gather people together, which, in turn, may enable collective action.

Parkkari encourages those who promote entrepreneurship to focus their criticism on practices, that is, the established ways of doing things and communicating.
“It is important to understand the unintended consequences of your own action as well. What kind of a picture of entrepreneurship are you promoting and what kind of a world are you pursuing through your action? For example, are you forming ideals that result in the exclusion of certain types of ideas or people?”

Public examination of the dissertation

The dissertation Doing Entrepreneurship Promotion: A Critical, Practice Theoretical Study of Entrepreneurship by Piritta Parkkari, M.SSc., will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Lapland on Wednesday, 29 May 2019 at 12 noon in Lecture Hall 3. The opponent is Professor Päivi Eriksson from the University of Eastern Finland and the custos is Adjunct Professor and University Lecturer Pirkka-Maaria Laine from the University of Lapland. Coffee and cake will be served in restaurant Felli after the event. Welcome!

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Information on the doctoral candidate

Piritta Parkkari, born in Tampere in 1988, graduated from Tampere Arts-Oriented Senior Secondary School. She earned her master’s degree in social sciences, majoring in management, at the University of Lapland in 2012. Soon thereafter, she started working on her doctoral research. Parkkari has worked mainly on a grant, but she has also been in the employ of the University of Lapland. While conducting the research, she has taught, coordinated, and engaged in an organization that promotes entrepreneurship. In addition, she has been one of the co-founders of a cooperative. 


Further information

Piritta Parkkari



Information on the publication

Piritta Parkkari: Doing Entrepreneurship Promotion: A Critical, Practice Theoretical Study of Entrepreneurship. Acta Electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis 262, ISBN 978-952-337-153-8, ISSN 1796-6310, Lapin yliopisto, Rovaniemi 2019. 

Permanent address of the electronic dissertation