How teachers can escape being caught between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I just finished an article summarizing five years of work with six in-depth empirical studies on entrepreneurship education, enterprise education and value creation education. The six studies involved 928 participating students who in total made 10855 app reports through our smartphone app based data collection instrument Loopme. We interviewed 300 of the participants. I will here try to summarize what we found out. If you want to read the full paper, download it here. If you want to hear me present this paper, come to Cork, Ireland, in May, to this conference.

The article is basically about the dilemma most teachers are faced with when having to choose between two established but problematic approaches in entrepreneurial education. On one hand, entrepreneurship education based on an organization creation focus remains marginalized due to its connotations with egoistic capitalism, making it difficult to integrate with most kinds of non-business education. On the other hand, enterprise education based on an opportunity recognition focus remains largely irrelevant due to its weak effects and vague state of being indistinguishable from the centuries-old progressive education movement.

Through a comparison and contrasting of six different impact studies, an escape from this dilemma was generated and evaluated. The six studies contrasted the two established kinds of entrepreneurial education with a third kind building on a value creation based view of entrepreneurship, here termed ‘value creation education’. See table here:

Value creation education was shown to be widely applicable by integrating well on all levels of education and giving strong positive effects on entrepreneurial competencies, student engagement and subject matter knowledge. It removes much of the complexity associated with entrepreneurship education and also the definitional fuzziness associated with enterprise education. Value creation education was thus found to open up a new solution space for entrepreneurial education theory and practice. It remains to be seen how large this new solution space is. Based on this, time and effort invested by teachers and other practitioners into value creation education is most likely well spent. This is particularly so for practitioners in enterprise education where the step needed to take in order to reach a much stronger effect is small.

Policymakers now need to reconsider many of the currently on-going initiatives to infuse entrepreneurship into education. Value creation education is arguably a more effective and efficient practice than both entrepreneurship and enterprise education in many situations. Entrepreneurial education also no longer needs to rely on problematic economic policy objectives causing a value clash for teachers, but can instead be connected directly to educational policy objectives of improving student learning and achievement.

While potentially a breakthrough for the field of entrepreneurial education, these results give such a positive image of value creation education that one needs to question whether the findings are too good to be true. Other research teams now need to corroborate the results presented in this article and see if they can be reproduced in other settings and with other methodologies. The emergence of value creation education also poses new semantic challenges that need to be discussed. Finally, there could be other definitional starting points out there that have not been explored and that could be useful for educational practice.

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