Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Training Students for Entrepreneurial Activities: Lessons from a Social Venture Plan Competition

Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Training Students for Entrepreneurial Activities: Lessons from a Social Venture Plan Competition

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This research examines the attitudes towards entrepreneurship by a sample of 65 students and alumni who participated in a Social Venture Plan Competition (SVPC) hosted by a business school at a university in the western United States. The competition seeks to encourage students to think of creative ways of using business to create good in the world. Students and alumni who had participated in the SVPC were contacted using an online questionnaire and asked to elaborate on their reasons for participating in the competition, what they learned from the competition, and their willingness to consider social ventures or other entrepreneurial activities as a way to enact positive change in the world. Survey respondents were also asked to complete a scale of proactivity to measure the extent to which they possess the personality characteristics that are associated with a strong likelihood of pursuing entrepreneurial activities. The overall sample mean for the proactivity scale for the students who had participated in the SVPC was substantially higher than the proactivity score of the sample used by Crant (1996) to measure the entrepreneurial intentions of undergraduate and MBA students at a Midwestern university. As the proactivity scale was administered after the SVPC, it is not possible to know if the sample for our study were more proactive than Crant's (1996) sample prior to participating in the competition, or if the higher proactivity ratings were due to their participation in the social venture competition. Follow up questions regarding the SVPC competition revealed that participants' desire to be involved in future entrepreneurial activities was higher than their desire to participate in future social ventures.

INTRODUCTION

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) regards innovation as an essential part of finding solutions to global problems and providing value for businesses and consumers in the United States and around the globe. Although entrepreneurship is not synonymous with innovation, it provides the tools needed for bringing innovative ideas to market. The need for promoting entrepreneurship in business schools appears to have been accepted by many business school deans (Hazeldine & Miles, 2007). Moreover, interest for entrepreneurship among students has grown in recent years. A study by the Kauffman Foundation documented that interest in starting one's own business peaked in the 1980s, dropped in the 1990s, and has subsequently grown again (Rocca & Pruitt, 2009). Additionally, there is anecdotal evidence of an increased in entrepreneurship in many universities such as Michigan State (Cassella, 2011), Georgetown (Newman, 2012), and Harvard (Massari, 2012).

In the last fifteen years, there has also been increasing interest in a special type of entrepreneurship; developing businesses for the common good. "Doing good" has become a rallying cry for many students, consumers, and businesses. Developing business ventures for the common good has received so much attention that the whole November 2010 issue of US News & World Report was devoted to this topic. Reflecting the same interest in "doing good," the Aspen Institute has published a guide to the top 150 MBA programs around the world that have curricula focusing on the social, ethical, and environmental issues (Aspen Institute, 2010). Within this broader societal emphasis to making a difference a new type of organization has been created to provide aid in areas where traditional non-profits or government supported organizations have had limited success. Social enterprises, also called social ventures, aim to provide needed services for a variety of social and environmental problems in a new way. While the traditional nonprofit model involves raising funds from charitable donations made by individuals, businesses, foundations, and governmental organizations, social entrepreneurs use business skills and innovative technologies to aid social and environmental causes (CASE, 2008). …

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