Entrepreneurship Teaching: Doctoral Degree, Teaching, PhD Careers
Degree programs that are focused on entrepreneurship are proliferating across the world in recognition of the socio-economic importance of new venture creation. Entrepreneurship education is en route to becoming part of the core curriculum at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree levels.
Colleges have begun to offer electives, concentrations, minors, and majors in entrepreneurial studies. MBA programs have moved beyond business plan competitions to an emphasis on managing entrepreneurial businesses. Not many PhD programs yet focus on entrepreneurship as the core area of research. However, this too is undergoing rapid transformation as policymakers, corporate executives, and the broader society seek deeper insights into entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Compared to well-established research areas such as marketing, finance, and strategy, the field of entrepreneurship is nascent and evolving when it comes to education. Not only is there the traditional perception that entrepreneurship is best left to ‘practitioners’ but there is also substantial debate about whether entrepreneurship can be truly taught. Moreover, academic research into the field has to reconcile empirical findings with management theory, despite the fact that the latter has been developed by studying established businesses and large corporations. Finally, masters and doctoral degrees that focus on new venture creation have yet to be fully accepted by academia when it comes to traditional career paths that combine research, teaching, and service.
Entrepreneurship is one of those management areas that go beyond the boundaries of business schools and cross-over into science, engineering, design, even liberal arts! In fact, at large universities in most economies, entrepreneurship teachers and scholars have the opportunity to pursue novel career paths that involve incubators, accelerators, seed funds, innovation parks, and other elements of the startup ecosystem.
Of course, the global boom in new venture creation and growth – powered by technology innovation – has led to a surge of interest in entrepreneurial education. Stakeholders from governments, businesses, regional development authorities, schools & colleges, popular media, industry & trade associations all are keen to adopt and/or encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among their teams. This, in turn, requires not only effective pedagogy but also robust theories of teaching entrepreneurship in a manner that creates entrepreneurial leaders of the future.
Entrepreneurship faculty – whether lecturers, tenured professors, or industry experts – have an array of pedagogical options at their disposal. These range from group discussions and team exercises to experiential learning that involves working directly with startups and small businesses. Each method of teaching entrepreneurship has its strengths and limitations – a mix of multiple methods is often the best approach to learning entrepreneurial skills. A greater challenge is measuring the effectiveness of entrepreneurial education, given the role that individual psychology and circumstances play in new venture creation. For example, to what extent does taking a class or two in entrepreneurship influence a student’s decision to create a new venture? Similarly, to what extent does the learning of entrepreneurship theory lead to successful business outcomes?
Future of Entrepreneurship Degrees
As local, regional, and national governments continue to expand their support for entrepreneurial education, we are bound to see a corresponding increase in related graduate degree programs, university ecosystems, and research intensity. The latter will be reflected not only in how the top-ranked universities perceive entrepreneurship research and peer-reviewed journals but also in a proliferation of entrepreneurship PhD programs, research datasets, and teaching methodologies.