Getting Entrepreneurship Education Out of the Classroom and into Students' Heads

De Gruyter
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Entrepreneurship Research Journal, 2014, 4 (2), pp. 237 - 260 (24)
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The debate on whether or not entrepreneurship can be taught has continued for many years (e.g., see Henry, Hill and Leitch 2005 for a review), and appears to have been concluded with a “yes .. but.” In general, reviews of entrepreneurial education (hereafter EE) indicate that “yes” it can indeed be taught (see Hindle 2007; Franco, Haase and Lautenschläger 2010; Wadhwa 2010). The “but” part says that the design of EE programs is highly context dependent, and its impact is also highly contingent on several factors, including when EE is taught, by whom, and how (as also argued by Jones and Matlay 2011). Rather than lament the heterogeneity of EE programs and the difficulty in evaluating and comparing them, this study appeals to those who aim to celebrate the diversity of EE programs, and learn from improved detail regarding their origins, motivations, and methods, and of the people involved. This paper is a case study of EE at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) that encompasses not just the contents and methods of the EE program, but also reveals the history and purpose of the program, the institutional context, and the qualifications of the educator. By providing such a detailed and comprehensive overview, this study responds to recent critical reviews of the EE literature that call for more detail. For example, Fayolle’s reflective review identifies that “Studies into who entrepreneurship educators are and what they really do in their interventions are sorely missing. Whether educators and instructors in EE need to have prior entrepreneurial expertise is also an issue that has not been examined in the literature” (Fayolle 2013, 695). To this he adds that “few articles go beyond the description of contents and methods to consider the rationale leading to effective didactical designs” (ibid.). Likewise, a recent special issue in the Journal of Small Business Management on EE decries that “many of the linkages between entrepreneurship in the classroom and entrepreneurship in the “real world” remain largely unknown” (Vanevenhoven and Liguiri 2013). In contrast, this paper attempts to provide the full picture of EE; not just paying lip service to its importance, but revealing the efforts involved in establishing and maintaining EE programs, and providing operational detail that the above reviews call for.
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