Focus on Entrepreneurship: Can you teach what it needs?
MBA News Barbara Barkhausen / 06-04-2012
Not long ago the Master of Business Administration (MBA) was a university degree that taught managers not entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship wasn’t existent in business schools until the 1980s and only recently it stepped into the limelight and became a major focus for many students.
The reason is simple: demand has shifted. These days many students near the end of their studies or after a few years working for a big corporation prepare themselves to launch their own company. At Harvard Business School, approximately 50% of HBS graduates become entrepreneurs by the time they are 15 years out of school. In the future, these numbers might rise considerably with usually at least 100 potential new ventures being explored in any given year according to the Harvard website.
A 2011 survey conducted by the non-profit youth organization Young Invincibles also proved the trend towards entrepreneurship. It found that 54% of business people between the ages of 18 and 34 have either started a business or would like to. Results like these have tempted business schools across the world to adjust their curriculum or even offer entrepreneurship as a speciality. They had to understand the fundamental difference between what needs to be taught to a manager and what to an entrepreneur. A Forbes commentator once put it: “Entrepreneurship is about tackling unknown problems or solutions, whereas management is about tackling known problems.”
In an interview with MBA Channel Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño, dean of the Spanish IE Business School said that the world needs more entrepreneurs. His business school is certainly following the trend. IE runs the International Center for Entrepreneurship and Ventures Development and de Onzoño wants it to be an international hub for business ideas. The Spanish business school has a network of tutors for students who work on their own business plan as well as a venture lab where business angels and venture capitalists visit and students have the opportunity to meet those investors.
Another school that fosters entrepreneurship is Babson College. Babson requires students to take a seven-credit, year-long course called Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship, during which teams of 30 students invent, develop, launch, and manage an actual business. They have a start-up credit of $3,000 provided by the school and any profits are donated to local charities.
The Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University is also offering a special degree in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE). The school teaches students in subjects like Imagination, Entrepreneurship, Creative Problem Solving, Entrepreneurial Marketing, Entrepreneur Business Plan and Finance for Emerging Enterprises.
These are only three examples of a plethora of courses and programmes on offer these days. But still, some entrepreneurs, who’ve achieved the success already that many MBA students seek, claim that an MBA is certainly not the sole solution. Some even claim that it cannot be taught what you need to build up your own successful business or corporation. Entrepreneur Stephen Greer once wrote in a blog for Harvard Business Review about his conversation with Dr. John Yang, the dean of the Beijing International MBA programme at Beijing University about this topic. Dr. Yang had said to him: "In my opinion, entrepreneurship is a matter of the heart, and education is a matter of the brain. It is difficult to teach a heart." Greer couldn’t agree more…