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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


SEPULVEDA MALDONADO, José et al. Personal entreprenuerial characteristics and economic literacy: A comparision between university students of southern Chile. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2017, vol.34, n.1, pp.107-124. ISSN 1668-7027.

Entrepreneurship is defined as the capacity to detect and act upon economic opportunities in the environment, to gain an individual or collective benefit. Interest in this subject has led to relate this construct with individual and social variables. However, few studies have focused on the characteristics of entrepreneurs and their level of knowledge about the economic world, known as economic literacy. This is relevant given that entrepreneurship cannot be solely understood from the concept of opportunity or the traits of the entrepreneur, and instead these elements must be understood in their interaction. From this point of view, economic literacy is fundamental. Understanding the economic world allows the entrepreneur to better manage resources and projects and to take informed decisions about daily economic problems. Following principles from Economic Psychology, this research aims to compare the personal entrepreneurial characteristics and the economic literacy of Chilean university students of two faculties. The design of this study is quantitative, non-experimental, with a descriptive scope. The Test of Entrepreneurial Personal Characteristics (PECs) and the Test of Economic Literacy for Adults (TAE-A) and was answered by 200 students from the faculties of Engineering, Science and Management (FICA) and Education, Social Sciences and Humanities (FESCH). A convenience sample was chosen, which comprised 57.5% men and 42.5% women, with a mean age of 22 years. The test PECs measures 10 dimensions, related to the three basic elements of entrepreneurship: innovation, risk-taking and proactivity. The TAE-A measures knowledge on General Economy, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and International Economy. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted over the PECs Test, and a following Student's t Test to compare the scores between students from both faculties. The exploratory factor analysis of the test PECs suggests a new nine-dimensional structure for the Chilean student population, thus changing the original structure and categories of the test. Both faculties showed a low level of economic knowledge. When comparing both faculties in the PECs test, significant differences were found in six out the nine dimensions, that is, the FICA students presented significantly higher scores for the following personal entrepreneurial characteristics: Risk anticipation, Persistence and confidence, Self-demand and quality, Search for control and excellence, Propositivity and Foresight. Similarly, FICA students had higher levels of economic knowledge of International Economy, although no significant differences were found when comparing the overall performance on economic literacy. Neither faculty reached the degree of economic literacy expected for this education level. This should be a cause of concern because previous research asserts that a deficit in economic literacy in adults puts them at risk of compulsive economic behavior, consumerism, overspending and debt. In conclusion, although the emergent structure of the PECs test may be useful, a confirmatory factor analysis and further studies of its psychometric properties are suggested for its use in research and assessment of interventions on entrepreneurship in university populations. These results highlight the importance of strengthening economic literacy and the promotion of entrepreneurial personal characteristics, as part of the personal and professional development of university students with emphasis on those careers that are explicitly linked to entrepreneurship. Limitations of the study are the convenience sampling method used and the lack of exploration of other sources of economic knowledge outside academia and also, the design and scope of this study does not allow to conclude if the differences found are due to the learning inside the university context or if students with different profiles are drawn to different careers and faculties. Drawing from both findings and limitations, suggestions for future research in the subject of economic literacy and entrepreneurship and related issues are outlined.

Palabras clave : Economic literacy; Economic Literacy Test; Entrepreneurship; Entrepreneurship Traits; University students.

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