Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

The Reinvention of Academic Entrepreneurship

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

The Reinvention of Academic Entrepreneurship

Article excerpt

What a delight it is to have this "essay" invited to appear in this edition of the Journal of Small Business Management (JSBM). Most of the research papers included in this issue were written by several of the courageous pioneers of the once incipient academic field of entrepreneurship. In addition, my very favorite former doctoral student and her coauthor created a cutting-edge paper on entrepreneurial education that is not only superlative but also a "must read" for dedicated professor/teachers. Dr. George Solomon, editor of JSBM, has my sincere appreciation for creating and organizing this special issue.

Introduction and Overview

In the heat of the long "battle" advocating the legitimacy of academic entrepreneurship, few, if any, of the early advocates predicted the great swarm of colleges and universities that now embrace the academic entrepreneurship discipline. Present and growing, academic departments, hybrid departments, institutes, centers, and even one encompassing school now focus on academic entrepreneurship. I celebrate the positive outcome after the long trek for acceptance and support for entrepreneurship in the academic world. That world is often known to resist change (as one long-ago colleague often said, "changing a university is like moving a cemetery"). I applaud the teachers and researchers who are currently plowing the ground by teaching entrepreneurial "skills" and researching and publishing "entrepreneurship" content in the huge number of academic journals now open to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and entrepreneurship subject matter.

My focus here, however, is on a number of "elephants in the room.: I have been known for pointing out such elephants--such as the worship of the rational business plan in curricula, the blind pursuit of magazine entrepreneurship reputation rankings, and that academic entrepreneurship is not the property of B-schools. Who better to point a few foibles and stumbling blocks than an old guy (Dr. Whilom Quandam Erstwhile--look up the words, folks). As I cite the issues that seem important to me, please keep in mind that it is not my purpose to criticize anyone in particular. So, with the foregoing disclaimer on the table, it is now time to visit the elephant. Most of my comments herein are relevant to the valid reexamination of higher education both in the United States and worldwide. Universities, four-year and community colleges are receiving great attention by the voting public, particularly in the United States. Each day, I read the Chronicle of Higher Education online--try it and you will be quite surprised about how the dialogue is changing. The relationship between teaching and research is a very hot topic. Academic entrepreneurship is now a part of the "publish or perish" higher education milieu so it is a part of the public call for accountability. In my opinion, many calls for change are slowly stewing, and academic entrepreneurship as well is about to enter a new and unique stage of its existence.

Author's Interdisciplinary Background

This essay will make more sense to the reader if I state up front that my lifetime intellectual background and pursuits have been, and continue to be, purposefully interdisciplinary. Rather recently, it has occurred to me that I was one of the first scholars (or perhaps the very first) in the United States to complete a Ph.D. in what is now labeled "behavioral economics." My background educational foci can be found at the end of this essay. This is the first time that I have revealed these few background facts in succinct form. Hopefully, the reader will not conclude that I am being bombastic by placing this information in this essay--I detest that type of behavior. Perhaps this information will allow the reader to analyze the origins of the biases that this essay contains. Now it is about those elephants.

Elephants and More Elephants

First, with the academic entrepreneurship boom going strong, is it not about time that rigorous measurements of results and accountability be required? …

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