Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship Education: Building for the Future

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship Education: Building for the Future

Article excerpt


Today with the cry for entrepreneurs to restore our economy and the emergence of many entrepreneurial courses being taught from early elementary years to doctoral institutions, the design and implementation of these courses and/or curricula is of increasing importance. Research has indicated to us that the traditional approaches to curriculum design and the traditional pedagogical approaches do not work for entrepreneurs. By not being aware of the differences inherent in the entrepreneurial psyche, we could steal from our future by not educating our students for that unknown future. Here is one method which has been psychically rewarding, but may not be generalizable.


Today almost everyone is hearing about that which most of us in entrepreneurship already knew: entrepreneurship is the backbone of the economy and the economic engine which is necessary to restore economic success to a nation suffering from spiraling costs and job losses. News pundits and politicians are now touting that which entrepreneurship educators have preached for decades: the sources of jobs in America and elsewhere are the small businesses, not the large. Now, they are preaching to us that innovation springs from the minds and hands of individual entrepreneurs who risk their all to prove that their inventions work or that their dreams can become realities. One would think that with such expressions so boldly pronounced on the nightly news that entrepreneurship education would abound. One might surmise that entrepreneurship education appears everywhere and everywhen! There is no doubt that entrepreneurship programs have grown dramatically across the United States, yet they are far from ubiquitous, and with good reason. Designing and executing an entrepreneurship program is extremely challenging.


The modern approach to business education in the U.S. has been to prescribe a "core" of courses which all students must take. Much of this effort is patterned after the Harvard model (Nelson, 1990) introduced in 1979. In 1989, Lynne Cheney published a study funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities which was a prescription for the reform of undergraduate education. That report was deeply critical of core requirements which are met by an array of course offerings. The report recommended that cores be replaced by interdisciplinary courses (Cheney, 1989). However, the study recognized that many professors are too specialized to teach general courses, that programs have become increasingly specialized, and that faculty advancement has come to depend on research reputation and other factors which undermine incentives for curriculum reform or for teaching. That study has been criticized as being Utopian and its recommendations unworkable (Reed, 1990). And yet, many would argue that a generalist is required in entrepreneurship education because of the vast array of knowledge required to run an entrepreneurial firm (J. C. Garland, J. W. Garland, & Higgs, 1998; J. C. Garland, J. W. Garland, & Ensley, 1999). Unlike the "giants" which are "too big to fail," entrepreneurial ventures are started and run by small teams of people who must wear all the hats, juggle all the balls, and make all the decisions. Leading such a venture through creation to success and growth takes the knowledge and skills of a generalist. Serious questions abound on the issue of whether specialist faculty can train generalists.

A number of scholars posit that using a common core of courses is a futile approach to education (Goodlad, 1987). These writers emphasize that knowledge cannot be capsulized in small, discrete modules; that education requires teaching students to question. Courses should not contain specific material, they say, but course content should vary as students and instructors seek to learn together and to pursue varying interests (Wiggins, 1989). Further, educators will inevitably bring to a course their personal interests, concerns and ideas. …

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