Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

A Case Study: Action Based Entrepreneurship Education How Experience Problems Can Be Overcome and Collaboration Problems Mitigated

Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

A Case Study: Action Based Entrepreneurship Education How Experience Problems Can Be Overcome and Collaboration Problems Mitigated

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper contributes by providing suggestions on how to analyze business ideas for exploitation in an entrepreneurial education context, and how the institution can provide support activities to enhance the chance of successful exploitation. Active learning has become the preferred choice of teaching entrepreneurship and external ideas are used to provide the students with business opportunities to exploit. An instrumental case study on the Norwegian University of Science and Technology - School of Entrepreneurs hip, however, finds challenges on collaborating with these external partners. By reviewing theory, ways to improve the analysis of business opportunities are found and presented. Additionally a structured idea search process and mentors are suggested as a mean of gaining access to sufficient business ideas and the experience and network necessary for a successful evaluation and exploitation process.

INTRODUCTION

The contribution of this paper is to provide suggestions on how to analyze business ideas for exploitation in an entrepreneurial education context and how the institution can provide support activities to enhance the chance of successful exploitation. Entrepreneurship practice has been subject to a rising interest over the latter years. In times of economic recessions and rising unemployment, entrepreneurship is by many regarded as a mean for continued economic growth and prosperity. With an increased interest in entrepreneurship, follows an increased interest in the facilitation of entrepreneurship, by policy makers, entrepreneurship education being an area of special attention (Laukkanen, 2000). Entrepreneurship education is even regarded to play a major role in the economic development of a country (Gibb, 1996). According to a study by Brockhaus' s (1991), entrepreneurship education is recognized as a tool for economic development worldwide, and universities all over the world, including former communist countries, both teach entrepreneurship and conduct research on both practical and theoretical entrepreneurship issues.

Entrepreneurship education has been in transition over the last couple of years, becoming more and more an arena of action learning and less prone to scholastic pedagogical methods. This is in line with the academic work on entrepreneurship education arguing that entrepreneurship is best taught by acts of entrepreneurship and experimental pedagogical tools (Haines, 1988; Hills, 1988; McMullan & Long, 1987).

When looking into the literature on opportunity search, evaluation and exploitation, experience is often cited as one of the main ingredients of success. Experience can however not only be taught in a scholastic setting, but also emerges from observing, and participating in, real events.

So what strategies do entrepreneurship educators use to help students overcome the problems related their lack of experience and to build entrepreneurial knowledge reservoirs for themselves, and importantly: do they succeed at this?

Conducting an instrumental case study on the action learning based institution Norwegian University of Science and Technology - School of Entrepreneurship (NSE) this article shows that NSE uses several strategies to overcome the experience chasm. Ideas are gathered from external sources to overcome experience challenges on opportunity search and discovery, and are started with external partners to remedy experience challenges related to exploitation. Former students are involved in business plan workshops and external resource persons like lawyers and venture capitalists are brought in to help evaluate business potential. However, problems related to the collaboration with external partners have caused several projects over the last years to be abandoned. Problems with communication, involvement, dedication, and willingness to share economic reward, are examples of these problems. As a reaction, students shift towards less innovative ideas with less economic potential in order steer clear of external partners. …

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