Creativity in the Entrepreneurship Classroom

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Creativity is a critical skill for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs hip training. In this study the scores of eighty-nine students, in a beginning entrepreneurs hip class, on a creativity survey and a divergent thinking test, are compared with those of forty-two students in a required public speaking class. Findings show that students who enrolled in the entrepreneurs hip class perceived themselves as more creative after the class and did better on divergent thinking (generated more ideas and a greater range of ideas) than students not enrolled in the class in pre and post tests. Additionally, practice in divergent thinking exercises increased the entrepreneurs hip students' abilities to generate a greater number and range of ideas, but not their approaches to creative problem solving. Recommendations for the entrepreneurs hip curriculum are given.

INTRODUCTION

A recent study identified the consistent decline since 1990 in creativity scores of U.S. students on the Torrance test of creativity (Bronson & Merryman, 2010). At the same time, a 2010 American Management Association study identified creativity and innovation as one of the four critical skills needed for business success today and in the future. A study of CEOs identified creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future (Bronson & Merryman, 2010).

Is this decline in creativity a problem for the entrepreneurship classroom? Is it important to include creativity exercises in an already full entrepreneurship curriculum? In this study the authors review the relationship between creativity and entrepreneurship, and study the effectiveness of including divergent thinking exercises in the entrepreneurship classroom.

The Relationship Between Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Creativity has been identified by several researchers as related to entrepreneurship. Yar Hamidi, Wennberg and Berglund (2008) found that high scores on creativity tests and prior entrepreneurial experiences were both positively associated with entrepreneurial intentions, and contended that creativity should be considered in models of entrepreneurial intentions. Golshekoh, Gholamreza, Mirsaladin, Askary, and Alireza (2010) also found a positive relationship between scores on creativity tests and entrepreneurship. Fillis and Rentschler (2010) found a link between creativity and motivation, actualization and innovation. Several other studies have identified motivational traits and creativity as important factors in entrepreneurial activity and success (Baum, Locke, & Smith, 2000; Stewart & Roth, 2001).

Sternberg and Lubart (1999) defined creativity as the ability to produce work that is both novel (original, unexpected) and appropriate (useful, adaptive concerning task constraints). Using this definition Youl-Lee, Florida, and Acs (2004) contended that "entrepreneurship is a form of creativity and can be labeled as business or entrepreneurial creativity because new businesses are original and useful (p. 8 82)."

Sternberg and Lubart' s definition includes the elements generally associated with creativity: the development of divergent thinking (generating lots of unique ideas) followed by convergent thinking (combining these ideas into the best result). Divergent thinking (problem finding) is often associated with the arts and humanities and tested by creativity tests, while convergent thinking (problem solving) is often tested in intelligence tests and identified as more associated with science and technology (Atherton, 2010). Creativity tests, unlike IQ tests, require a multitude of responses rather than a single response (Hocevar, 1981).

Creativity and Entrepreneurship Education

In 1994, Timmons argued that creativity should be central to entrepreneurship education. Morrison and Johnston (2003) argued that creativity was so important it should be introduced into the entrepreneurship curriculum widely and not confined to a specific course. …