BACKGROUND : Entrepreneurship education interventions are deemed effective when they
enhance interns’ entrepreneurial intent (EI) and entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE).
Notwithstanding the emergence of internship as an experiential learning approach in
entrepreneurship education, evidence about their potential to foster EI and ESE lacks
AIM : The aim of this study was to determine whether internships enhance EI and ESE.
Furthermore, to what extent South African tertiary institutions include internships in their
entrepreneurship and management curricula and the obstacles to such inclusion.
SETTING : South Africa has made a concerted effort to insert an entrepreneurship component
across tertiary curricula. The evolution of this entrepreneurship component to experiential
learning approaches is, however, unclear.
METHODS : A qualitative research approach was followed. Firstly, it reviewed empirical evidence
for the positive relationship between internships and EI and ESE. Secondly, it conducted a
survey of entrepreneurship and business management programmes at all 23 South African
tertiary institutions and content analysed the retrieved information to determine whether such
programmes include internships. Finally, 10 experts were interviewed to unveil the constraints
inhibiting the inclusion of internships in tertiary curricula.
RESULTS : The results revealed empirical support for the positive influence of internships on
both EI and ESE. Significant lack of inclusion of internships in tertiary curricula in South Africa
emerged, owing mainly to administrative issues, curriculum re-design challenges, and lack of
CONCLUSION : Tertiary-level entrepreneurship education programmes should include an
internship component. The paper suggested that tertiary institutions pilot-test the inclusion of
internships with a small number of students and a selected cohort of small business owners.