It has been stated that enterprise education represents a risk of diluting entrepreneurship so much that it loses both its power and its legitimacy, since enterprise education leans on such a broad definition of entrepreneurship. See for example in this article by Heidi Neck and Andrew Corbett, where they write:
“…we need to create boundaries for [entrepreneurship education] so as not to dilute its impact while also working to establish its legitimacy.”
I can understand and sympathize with such critique. But I’ve not seen a deeply probing definitional and critical examination of enterprise education before. So I wrote an article aiming to do just that. Last year it was included as a chapter in a book about enterprise education in the UK that you can find here. Today I posted an open access version of that chapter on this website, you can download it here. It’s the same text, except that the pagination doesn’t work.
Since I’m an engineer (I guess), I cannot just stay in the critical stance and delve into all that doesn’t work. In those situations, I always get an urge to propose solutions to the problematic situation. The solution I propose here is that we add two definitional perspectives to enterprise education, resulting in a situation where we go from Enterprise Education version 1.0 to version 2.0. One of these definitional perspectives was added in the 2000s – entrepreneurial competencies – and reinforced in the 2010s by among others European Commission. The other of the definitional perspectives is of course the perspective I’ve come to be obsessed by – value creation.
When we add these two perspectives, enterprise education changes both in its means and in its ends. It is no longer solely about seeing opportunities for oneself, but also about learning through creating value for others. And it is no longer economic policy based, but instead it’s educational policy based. We then can see enterprise education (the 2.0 version) not for the benefits to society’s or individuals’ economy, but for the educational benefits it can offer us while our students are still in school. More engaged students learning core curriculum content more deeply. The desired end then becomes better education instead of better economy.
I conclude my article with a question: Have we then been doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons for decades? Well, I come to the slightly unexpected conclusion that it seems we indeed have. But that’s in itself been for damn good reasons. Because it allowed us to pivot into a new type of educational philosophy that in fact can offer great benefits to all kinds of education, and for all student ages. Thus, increasing the relevance of enterprise education through a deliberate mission creep. That’s not a small feat!
In sum, I’d say it’s been a typical entrepreneurial collective process of doing new things, learning, pivoting and repeatedly so by many practitioners and scholars over vast periods of time. If we hadn’t started digging many many decades ago, we wouldn’t have found gold now. I personally think this is a golden opportunity and time for enterprise education. But many of us will be stuck in enterprise education 1.0 for many years to come. That’s how we are, we humans, we just have to accept that. We tend to keep our habits, stick to what we know and be cautious about new ideas. We are truly path dependent. Meanwhile, I’ve turned to other quests. But I will certainly check in later!
I think this is perhaps one of the more provocative papers I’ve written so far. No wonder it had to be hid away in a book chapter. Blind peer reviewers would have torn it apart, because they can. Publishing critical-reconstructive papers is not easy in a peer review regime. Let me know what you think about it! I do think it keeps together quite well, despite its provocative tone. And if you missed the link above to the open access version of the chapter, below is a big link for you. Download it, you can always read it later! (procrastination is another of humanity’s trademarks)