The who, what, how and why of entrepreneurship education

Prof. János Vecsenyi

Entrepreneurship education became trendy in higher education during the last couple decades. I have focused my attention on higher education, since I’ve been working there for many years, but I assume that the findings remain valid for primary and secondary schools as well.

There are only four questions on entrepreneurship education I am interested in highlighting now: WHY, HOW, WHAT and WHO.  In answering these questions I uncovered 20 trends. You may recognize some finding from your own experiences and others you may find interesting to learn about more. Some of these trends you may like to follow, while others may appears strange and you would like to reject them. Do not worry, trends and buzz-words come and go, and we all learn and teach that there is no one best way.    So, let’s start with the first question!

Why do we need/want to teach entrepreneurship?

  1. More and more students become entrepreneurs through self-employment as new venture creators, and intrapreneurs as product or service developers (hackers), managers (hustlers), marketers (hipsters), finance guys, sales people, etc.
  2. Through education less privileged people can become successful entrepreneurs and develop the skills, knowledge and mid-set needed in today’s world of work.
  3. Higher education institutions should actively support the future careers of their students and entrepreneurship education addresses this by teaching skills for employability and fostering a start-up culture. 
  4. There is a tremendous need for entrepreneurial people to solve the increasingly complex problems of our world.
  5. From past experience, we’ve learned that for a new venture to be successful, people with the right talents, attitude, skills, knowledge, experience and network are as important as the idea itself.

How do we teach entrepreneurship?

  1. Through more learning-by-doing programmes, which provide practical information and introduce real-life experiences. Programmes should focus the theories of what entrepreneurship is all about, and more on how to start and manage new and growing businesses or creating and implementing new initiatives.
  2. By focusing on ASK: attitude, skills and knowledge, or heart, hand and mind (in this order).
  3. More learning from others (case studies or internship or guest-speaking entrepreneurs, company visits, life projects) and more through experience (from self-started new venture projects), less of traditional lecturing.
  4. Supported by the entrepreneurship ecosystem (practice field incubators, accelerators, mentoring, and coaching, consulting, financing, and apprenticeship training in local businesses) and on the other side by technology (e.g. distance-learning, webinars, MOOCs).
  5. Combination of ‘push and pull’: school-driven and student-driven learning initiatives in course design and actions.

What do we teach in entrepreneurship?

  1. The entrepreneurial process for starting, building and managing growing companies.
  2. Functional management (e.g. strategic, marketing, sales, financial, HR, IT, technology, operations, logistic) for starting and growing early-stage companies.
  3. Skills (e.g. communication, cooperation, competitiveness, change management, negotiation, sales, project management, problem-solving, team-building, self-awareness).
  4. Industry specifics (e.g. high tech-ICT, energy, bio, health, financial industries or low tech, travel, hotels, catering, show businesses).
  5. Special focus on self-employment, family, social, non-profit, traditional or knowledge based, local, international businesses.

Who is going to teach entrepreneurship?

  1. More university professors (lecturers) with entrepreneurial experience, mostly with practice oriented research background – less pure academics.
  2. More entrepreneurs in residence, more as guest speakers/lecturers and mentors.
  3. More professionals (e.g. lawyers, bankers, venture capital fund managers, intellectual property experts, industry specialists) as guests speakers/lecturers and mentors.
  4. More practitioners (e.g. business angels, investors, consultants, trainers, experts, managers) as guest speakers/lecturers, trainers and mentors.
  5. More others, such as researchers, politicians, civil activistst.

Do you agree with me? Are these the real trends or do you see something else? Share your view!

Category : entrepreneurship education Posted : 24 February 2016 12:20 UTC
About the Author
Prof. János Vecsenyi

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