Importance of entrepreneurship education at grass root levels
What Globalization has done is brought to the forefront a new class of pioneering businessmen who know how to capitalize on the available freedom in market despite growing economic imperialism.
This class has institutionalized the system of business start ups. A closer look will interestingly reveal that this class has mixed roots.
While some have broken free from academics and developed what is known as ‘divergent thinking’ on their own accord, others have learnt the same via school and college curriculum.
The argument over the need for a business oriented education has been one that has given rise to varied and strong opinions on both sides. The subject has also inspired widespread research.
The hype obviously is around those who made phenomenal success stories without a formal academia.
Arguments bases on such entrepreneurs cannot be negated either for they have names such as Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Page (Google), Michael Dell (Dell), David Geffen (Geffen Records), Steve Jobs (Apple), Richard Branson (Virgin), Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lauren), Jerry Yang (Yahoo) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).
This line of entrepreneurs believe that innovation is a result of practical experience which will raise ones awareness of the business world and thus create a tendency to think ‘out of the box’.
Entrepreneurship, they say, is an innate talent. One either has it or doesn’t and method teaching will do nothing to improve this.
The years spent at a business school could be used to nurture one’s on-field expertise and strategy building based on the means at hand to create a self-sustaining platform capable of growth in ever changing situations.
Not to mention the rising cost of education. An MBA degree would cost lakhs, money that would serve well as investment for a start up. Thus time and money are both at stake and by the look of it at loss.
From the businessman’s point of view education wouldn’t be a very profitable investment.
Of course these arguments make a poor show of the importance of academics but one lesson of globalization is that everything can be taught and learnt provided the resources and information.
Experiences can be shared and mistakes can be studied to avoid them. In a world economy as risky as today not only do entrepreneurs need to be risk-embracing, they have to be thoroughly equipped with market research, business planning and negotiation technique.
Attending a good course will allow the young entrepreneur in making to study the history of business and its makers. The student will then live through past experiences as case studies and learn by analyzing faults rather than by repeating mistakes.
Organizational behavior, decision making and problem solving is the core to any business study program. Thus a proper degree will give the student the benefit of knowledge.
Not to mention the years of relationship building that could result in collaborative efforts and partnerships. These methods however are basic and the real challenge lies in teaching entrepreneurial thinking.
The capacity to innovate is the single most powerful weapon of the entrepreneur and the prime goal of every business oriented academic program.
Researcher Saras Sarasvathy in her work ‘What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial?’ speaks of the concept of effectual rationality as opposed to casual rationality as the ingredient that makes entrepreneurs different.
The former enables an entrepreneur to build a compound model the uses its current status as fodder for future developments. This is possible only through an inquisitive mind that bends rules to suit his path.
The possibility of teaching one to develop a vibrant mind treading on uncharted territories might have been a taboo even five years back but today business schools are claiming fame based on their ability to create an environment for divergent thinking.
A BBA or an MBA today comprises of field operations, creation of working business models that students may grow into full time businesses in addition to case studies and theory.
The gap between a theoretical knowledge of business and on-site development through experience has thus been bridged as per current needs.
Of course Vocational studies and diplomas can give some of the knowledge that comes from a degree but a well oriented programme will give time to trigger a deviation from linear thinking and make room for a more proactive diverse brain function.
The field of entrepreneurship will thus achieve new heights by academics and practice, in essence a wholesome education.
Recent research has validated the fact that start-ups headed by someone with a college degree have a higher chance at sustainability for the list of people who made it with a college degree isn’t less famous- Bob Parsons (GoDaddy), Chad Hurley (YouTube), David Packard (Co-founder of Hewlett-Packard), Fred Smith (FedEx), Gordon Moore (Intel) are proof.
While Packard has an engineering degree from Stanford, Moore has a doctorate in Chemistry from the University of California. Smith is a Yale graduate.
Nothing needs to be said about their companies of course that are worth billions today and have touched lives everywhere and it goes without saying that their four year education did play a part it doing so.
Having said this, we must not forget to look at the larger picture that a gap now exists between school and college curriculum as far as entrepreneurship is concerned.
In schools even business theory is neglected, let alone practical. Economics is barely an optional subject and it is only after the tenth standard that the student gets to choose commerce as an option.
Moreover school teaching is designed for appraisal of discipline. Following conventions are rewarded and divergent thinking discouraged. Thus what today’s education still cannot give to entrepreneurial thinking is school level exposure to ideas.
Thus by the time a student graduates from school his divergent cognitive skill are significantly lowered. This issue still needs to be looked into.
In this article I have tried to highlight the pros and cons of entrepreneurship with an education and also briefly dealt with the problems at the ground level.
The bottom line however is that a proper education (academia and experience) will go a long way in shaping business and industry.
Indian institutes like the IIMs, Narsee-Monjee, etc have come long way in imparting good business knowledge and it will only be advantageous to the aspiring business minds to acquire a college degree.