While entrepreneurship continues to be taught to students worldwide, there remains much uncertainty about the theory of teaching entrepreneurship. Is it even possible to teach entrepreneurship? This topic has been debated for decades as entrepreneurship faculty sought to equip their students with a set of robust theories of entrepreneurial orientation, intention, action, and wealth creation.
Each educator has her own beliefs about the theory of teaching entrepreneurship. Yet, the same scholar – wearing the hat of a researcher – tries to identify gaps in the latticework of entrepreneurship theory and fill them in with new theories. Moreover, the ability to theorize about entrepreneurship is itself a rare skill – one that requires much introspection and mentorship.
Many argue that entrepreneurship should be taught only by practitioners since it’s inherently a practice-oriented field. Others argue that academics can and should teach entrepreneurship but only in the form of real-life case studies, pragmatic knowledge, and actionable techniques. Yet, there remains staunch support amongst scholars for teaching theory to students as the ‘least worst’ form of educating students about entrepreneurship.
It is notable that teaching ‘what entrepreneurs do’ may not necessarily help students, since a significantly large number of new ventures eventually fail. Instead, scholars should develop and disseminate more general theories of entrepreneurship, with emphasis on deductive and abductive approaches instead of purely inductive ones.