Promoting Entrepreneurship Education Outward Management Faculties in Lankan Universities | Daily News

Promoting Entrepreneurship Education Outward Management Faculties in Lankan Universities

Srinath Dissanayake
Department of Commerce and Financial Management Faculty of Commerce and Management Studies
University of Kelaniya.

In practice, entrepreneurship is recognized exclusively within business. Provided that “an entrepreneur is someone with lots of energy and he/she can get things done”, it would be naïve to think that entrepreneurship is only related to business. However, Sri Lankan University educational disclosure about entrepreneurship is largely shaped by this restricted code and entrepreneurship education has been an avenue only for management students. Confining entrepreneurship education only to management faculties truncates its meaning and hinders the relationship between management and culture. Therefore, there is an urge to unleash entrepreneurship education outward from management faculties.

The prime argument for expanding entrepreneurship education beyond the management faculty lies in its practicality. Annually management faculties do produce graduates, as do the other faculties. What is observed in management faculties, is that management students are better prepared technically and have other professional credentials for narrow functional roles in companies.

Even departments which produce graduates specializing in entrepreneurship experience the same. Personally, to me, it is not controversial that management graduates lack in entrepreneurship careers per se, as one’s decision in venturing out depends purely on her/his “intention”. In fact, evidence claims that most entrepreneurs are not trained and educated in management faculties.

Therefore, the question arises, why we confine entrepreneurship education to management faculties alone? Mostly, entrepreneurship education is limited only to management faculties, as entrepreneurship has been reduced to innovation and management. Holistically, widening how we perceive an entrepreneur would provide an answer to this question. In addition to the above definition of an entrepreneur, we have to recognize that entrepreneurship as a process through which ideas become enterprise that produce value. It is how ideas affect people’s lives. In this line of thought, existing management curricular in entrepreneurship requires some changes too.

Apparently, entrepreneurship education, perhaps generally, does not reflect the centrality of entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka’s progress. Curricular in entrepreneurship focus on formation of business. Advocates claim that entrepreneurship curricular should target “why” one should venture out, rather than “how” to venture out. By the same token, entrepreneurship education can extend beyond business education (i.e. curriculum) to a way of thinking; a way of thinking that stimulates how to approach problems, how to interpret and how to discern.

In this way of thinking, we can look at any human activity and discern how entrepreneurial it is. How does it benefit others to create value? Advocates identify focusing entrepreneurship education as a basic category of understanding and analysis. Further, no management faculty can or should promise all graduates specializing in entrepreneurship will become an entrepreneur. It is naïve thinking like that.

With this growing rationale of expanding entrepreneurship education, advocates suggest, “intellectual entrepreneurship” as a mechanism providing an intellectually authentic foundation facilitating cross-faculty and university entrepreneurship. Intellectual entrepreneurship is based on classical rhetoric and has vision-based education in viewing academics as change-agents.

Having realized the need to inculcate entrepreneurship for non-management students, cross-faculty and university academics may sit at the same table discussing ways and means for introducing entrepreneurship in their respective disciplines. This process would be the first stage in unleashing entrepreneurship education beyond management faculties.

Extending entrepreneurship education to other faculties requires some other important considerations as well. Scholars suggest that entrepreneurship education curricular seldom borrows concepts or theories from disciplines other than management. One of the most prominent scholars in entrepreneurship, Joseph Schumpeter, emphasized decades ago that most innovations emerge from the creative combination of existing knowledge.

Therefore, curricular in entrepreneurship can or should be reinforced by cross-disciplinary contents. This cross-disciplinary nature would assist students to build bridges between academia and the real world, as well as between themselves and their future professional development.

The liberal arts faculty would be the first avenue to grow entrepreneurship education apart from the management faculty. Liberal arts and management have lot in common. Each discipline requires creativity and vision in bringing ideas to life and whether one is a musician or a leader, without passion he/she has got nothing.

However, practically speaking, obstacles exist in implementing entrepreneurship course units in other disciplines. Introducing additional content requires the existing to be restructured. Due to accreditation requirements, many students in state universities, have only a few electives available beyond their undergraduate core curricular.

Nonetheless, these limitations do not imply we should stop striving to have entrepreneurship added into a broader curricular. On the other hand, confronting authenticity in delivering entrepreneurship to non-management students is inevitable. That is, do these programs, classes and activities reflect value creation that entrepreneurship advocates expect? In addition, talking entrepreneurship in economic terms can be professionally threatening to the arts faculty. These perceptions should be brought forward at the table.

The apparent issues in extending entrepreneurship education to non-business students can be avoided to a large extent by using a constructivist approach to learning methods. Mostly, the university arts curricular is behavioristic in nature. Advocates suggest the need to implement a constructivist mode of education to stimulate how students think. Constructivist approaches change more than what students know, they change how they structure that knowledge. Scholars claim that the constructivist approach in entrepreneurship education makes the case that entrepreneurship education can have a significant, positive impact on learning.

There is a claim that knowing a lot about entrepreneurship is hardly sufficient to make one a successful entrepreneur, that ‘knowing a lot’ can even be dangerous.

Therefore, in attempting to induce the change from behavioristic to constructivist, educators should help learners to move from a more novice mindset toward a more expert mindset as entrepreneurs. Clearly, it is a state of mind that learners move from, from being novice to expert thinkers. Personally, I do not see the value in a learner cramming the definition of ‘who is an entrepreneur’ taught in class. Clearly, it is valuable, but the constructivist approach inculcates ‘who is an entrepreneur’ in the learner’s mind. Therefore, we need a better understanding of what course (curricular) activities influence what cognitive changes.

To conclude, as entrepreneurship educators, we have to realize that there is a quest to unleash entrepreneurship education outward from management faculties. Though presently entrepreneurship education is reduced to management related disciplines alone, there are possible avenues to revitalize its potential. Entrepreneurship education certainly has a legitimate place in, for instance, the study of psychology, science, sociology, music, nursing, education or even mathematics.

To nurture our students’ education and for the centrality of Sri Lanka’s progress constructivist learning practices of entrepreneurship should dominate over behavioristic content. We must go beyond teaching facts and teach students to think like an entrepreneur. It is about more than what students know, it is about how they structure knowledge.


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