There are aspects of entrepreneurship that most would agree can be taught, such as methodologies, frameworks, best practices, business models and such.
Different aspects, such as perseverance and creativity, can be learned because there are supporting methodologies and tools. However, starting a company requires an understanding of nuances of implementation that tend to come from real-world experience.
It might be better to reframe the original question. Can we teach the experiential part of entrepreneurship?
That’s a more difficult question to answer even though there are some tools available to teach that too. There are case studies, simulations, work co-ops and even running small initiatives such as short-lived T shirt companies.
These tools attempt to compress time in a learning environment to provide students with the opportunity to experience and explore key aspects of entrepreneurship.
I would suggest that entrepreneurship can be taught, even though it’s an experiential topic. We can provide some semblance of real-life experience through simulations. It’s why entrepreneurs tend to have a board of advisors and serial entrepreneurs are preferred by investors over first time entrepreneurs.
Therefore, the next question is: can the experiential side of entrepreneurship be taught in business schools?
A limitation of universities and colleges is that accreditation tends to focus on having predictability, consistency and standardization in courses, which tends to limit what can be done in any given course.
It creates a debate between teaching and grading the mechanics of entrepreneurship, such as business plan preparation, compared to evaluating the business plan as an opportunity.
Some business schools are addressing this by dividing entrepreneurship courses into two levels.
The first level course focuses on the mechanics and concepts of entrepreneurship and the second level, by invitation only, focusses on the experiential side of entrepreneurship.
The second level is where the evaluation focusses on the student’s ability to be an entrepreneur. The latter course requires a different set of tools and teaching skills.
To make entrepreneurship a profession, we need to move away from learning just the mechanics and more towards learning how to think and implement like an entrepreneur.
Dr. James Bowen is a professor at University Canada West. He is also associated with 10 universities, including three in Europe, where he teaches in their MBA programs. He has more than 20 years of management experience and is a published author. For more blogs from Dr. Bowen click here.
University Canada West is located in the heart of Vancouver, British Columbia. The university offers both online and on-campus Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication and MBA programs. The business-oriented university provides students with the experience to succeed in their careers and scholarships to recognize students’ academic excellence.