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Can Entrepreneurship be Taught?

Can Entrepreneurship be Taught?

In the future, all leaders might need to have an entrepreneurial spirit — being able to adapt and act nimbly in an increasingly complex world. But can entrepreneurship be taught in a classroom? Critics note that countless successful entrepreneurs never went to business school and argue that business curriculum is rarely designed to strengthen students’ imagination and teach them how to act and think counterintuitively, as entrepreneurs do.

Some business schools are trying to address this problem and develop more novel approaches for teaching entrepreneurship. In a recent study, researchers looked at three top North American MBA programs to observe how they are approaching this challenge. Here is what they observed:

1) University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is developing more experiential learning methods. For example, in their Creative Destruction Lab, a panel of established entrepreneurs join the professors in poking and prodding a startup’s business plan, helping students absorb the kind of intuition that can only be developed through experience.

2) The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business attempts to “rewire” students to be bold by encouraging them to recognize what resources they have at hand, even if it means accepting a certain amount of risk. This mindset is different from the more conventional business school approach, which emphasizes minimizing risk.

3) The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School takes a more traditional approach, teaching entrepreneurship by providing students with analytical models and tools from published academic research on new venture creation. This philosophy may be helpful for more mature startups, but it’s less useful for entrepreneurs dealing with extreme uncertainty.

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