Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Egg-Drop Exercise Revisited: An In-Class Entrepreneurship Exercise

Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Egg-Drop Exercise Revisited: An In-Class Entrepreneurship Exercise

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This article outlines a modification of the egg-drop exercise commonly used to teach engineering design and strategic choice. The variation of the exercise detailed focuses on relaying concepts relevant to entrepreneurship. The exercise can be used in undergraduate and MBA-level entrepreneurship courses. Specifically, student teams are tasked with developing new innovative "vehicles" that must meet target market value propositions. The project finale tasks students with dropping their vehicle, with raw egg in tow, from a second-story drop. The context of the exercise challenges students to "launch" their new venture in an emerging industry. Throughout the exercise, students are faced with a number of issues relevant to entrepreneurship. Concepts highlighted include customer value propositions, creativity, new venture team competencies, resource accumulation and management, bootstrapping, industry structures, competitive intelligence, and networking. This article details the exercise, provides instructions for employing it in the classroom, offers debriefing suggestions, and provides an illustration of the dominant product design. Results from surveys completed by both undergraduate and MBA students who completed the exercise suggest that desired teaching objectives are achieved and that the students perceive the exercise to be an innovative and engaging in-class project.

INTRODUCTION

The number of entrepreneurship programs and entrepreneurship-related course offerings in universities and colleges has increased exponentially over the last 20 years (Heriot & Simpson, 2007; Plumy, et al., 2008). The first entrepreneurship course was offered in the 1940s with 188 students enrolling in the course (Katz, 2003). In 1970, a national survey of business schools reported that just 17 courses in entrepreneurship were offered (Henricks & Newton, 2003). Today, though, over 1,600 universities and colleges in the United States, alone, offer over 2,000 courses dedicated to the education of entrepreneurship (Katz, 2003).

Despite the increasing interest in studying and teaching entrepreneurship, as a scholarly field entrepreneurship is still relatively new (Fiet, 2001a; Heriot and Simpson, 2007). In addition, entrepreneurship as a discipline has often been contested as a domain which cannot be taught (Fiet, 2001a; Henricks & Newton, 2003). While this idea has been touted, the newly adopted and dominate view is that entrepreneurship can be taught and that those receiving formal training are better equipped and more successful than those lacking such formal training (Cooper, GimenoGascon & Woo, 1994; Fiet, 2001a; 2001b). Regardless, those tasked with teaching prospective entrepreneurs can attest to the fact that entrepreneurship students are a different audience than students of other domains. Entrepreneurs are thought to possess different characteristics relative to others, like managers, for example (Zhao & Seibert, 2006). Thus, entrepreneurship students present unique challenges to those charged with educating them (Fiet, 2001a; 2001b).

Students of entrepreneurship are often interested in more hands-on experiences that allow them a tactile experience relative to the concepts being taught. And whether it is the nature of the material or the students being taught, evidence of this emerges by the countless entrepreneurship programs offering hands-on experiences like launching companies, business plan competitions, managing angel investment funds, and so forth. While these activities, no doubt, provide enriching and unique experiences for students, a thorough understanding of the concepts involved to execute these activities must also be achieved. Thus, some number of more traditional pedagogical approaches such as lectures, in-class exercises, exams, and so forth are generally also integrated into entrepreneurship programs and course offerings in order to establish an appropriate theoretical foundation (Fiet, 2001a). …

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