Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Educating Entrepreneurial Leaders

Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Educating Entrepreneurial Leaders

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In their book The New Entrepreneurial Leader, (Greenberg, McKone-Sweet and Wilson, 2011) describe the mind and the method of the new entrepreneurial leader. They also pose a challenge to the academic community - particularly business schools - to alter the way we educate students so they become entrepreneurial leaders rather than traditional business managers. As they put it: "How can management educators introduce system wide changes to reorient student learning toward educating entrepreneurial leaders?" (Greenberg, McKone-Sweet and Wilson, 2011:21 ).

The purpose of this paper is to answer the question posed above - that is, how best to educate the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders. Our emphasis on the word educate is meant to underscore that we use the term not in its narrow meaning of a formal academic curriculum, but as a broad concept that includes the total educational experience of a student both in and outside the formal classroom. We are interested in created an educational eco-system that develops entrepreneurial leaders.

We begin by describing the conceptual foundations of entrepreneurial leadership. We then use these foundational concepts to describe the anatomy or competencies of an entrepreneurial leader, which includes what they know and how they act. In the next section, we discuss the how the academic curriculum can be used to develop these leadership competencies. We follow with a discussion of how the co-curricular experience (sports, clubs, etc.) shape competencies and actions and detail the role that the campus' culture and social experiences (values, networking, diversity, etc.) play in shaping entrepreneurial leaders. The last two sections use Babson College as a live case to illustrate how we develop entrepreneurial leadership in practice and how we export our practices and put these principles into action when designing educational programs for partner schools.

CONCEPTUAL FOUNDATIONS OF ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADERSHIP

"Entrepreneurial leaders are individuals who, through an understanding of themselves and the contexts in which they work, act on and shape opportunities that create value for their organizations, their stakeholders, and the wider society." (Greenberg, McKone-Sweet and Wilson, 2011:2) Entrepreneurial leadership does not focus solely on new venture creation, the traditional domain of entrepreneurship, but instead represents a new model of leadership. Entrepreneurial leaders challenge, change, and create solutions inside existing organizations and in new ventures. The distinguishing trait of these leaders is the way they think and act.

Research on serial entrepreneurs and our own experience with Babson students and alumni have enabled us to develop our ideas about entrepreneurial behavior and entrepreneurial leadership. Research shows that entrepreneurial behavior is not simply the act of engaging in a new startup; rather it is the thinking and acting that goes into the process of engaging in new startups that is distinct and can be applied to all walks of life. Sarasvathy's (2008) work with serial entrepreneurs shows that what distinguishes entrepreneurs from managers is that they use a distinctive mode of thinking. Sarasvathy calls this "effectual thinking." Similarly Lange et al. (2012) performed a survey of Babson College alumni. Their study shows that while most of them do not start businesses upon graduation, many do so later in their career. However, while not all students start businesses, they all find that being exposed to entrepreneurial thinking and acting that is at the heart of the Babson experience very valuable in whatever career they choose to follow. This was borne out by a recent survey of Babson College alumni conducted by the office of institutional research. (Delaney, 2013) One of the key questions in the survey asked students to reflect on how their out-of-class experiences and Babson's focus on entrepreneurship transformed their lives. …

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