Personalizing Entrepreneurial Learning: A Pedagogy for Facilitating the Know Why
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2014

As the global diffusion of entrepreneurship education continues, along with increasing investment in, and expectations of, educational initiatives, it has become important to articulate what we are teaching and why, along with the specifics of where, how, and to whom. Yet, despite a growing consensus about what constitute the entrepreneurial activities and competencies required to start a new venture, there has been little agreement regarding the content of entrepreneurship education, or how learning should be delivered (Bygrave 2007, TheHandbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Entrepreneurship, 17–48. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited; Edelman, Manolova, and Brush 2008, Entrepreneurship Education: Correspondence Between Practices of Nascent Entrepreneurs and Textbook Prescriptions for Success. Academy of Management Learning and Education 7(1):56–70; Honig, Davidsson, and Karlsson 2005, Learning strategies of nascent entrepreneurs. Journal of Competence-based Management 1(3):67–88; Mwasalwiba 2010, Entrepreneurship Education: A Review of Its Objectives, Teaching Methods, and Impact Indicators. Education+Training 52(1):20–47). Clearly, the purpose of any education, the “why” for the teacher, shapes the content, the “what”, and the method, the “how”. But what about the personal “how” and “why” for the learner? Sarasvathy’s theory of effectuation (Sarasvathy 2001, Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. Academy of Management Review 26(2):243–63; 2008, New Horizons in Entrepreneurship, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar) has led educators to consider how an entrepreneur’s personal resources and resourcefulness can and should alter their how. Scholars are now sharing pedagogical approaches for motivating that type of learning (Fletcher and Watson 2007, Entrepreneurship, Management Learning and Negotiated Narratives: ‘Making it Otherwise for Us – Otherwise for Them’. Management Learning 38(1):9–26; Gibb 2011, Concepts into practice: meeting the challenge of development of entrepreneurship educators around an innovative paradigm – the case of the International Entrepreneurship Educators’ Programme (IEEP). International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research 17(2):146–165; Kyrö2008, A Theoretical Framework for Teaching and Learning Entrepreneurship. International Journal of Business and Globalisation 2(1):39–55; Ollila and Williams Middleton 2011, The Venture Creation Approach: Integrating Entrepreneurial Education and Incubation at the University. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management 13(2):161–78). However, little research has addressed the personal why for the entrepreneurial learner (Rae 2005, Entrepreneurial Learning: A Narrative-Based Conceptual Model. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 12(3):323–35; Rigg and O’Dwyer 2012, Becoming an entrepreneur: researching the role of mentors in identity construction. Education + Training 54(4):319–329). In this paper, we seek to fill this gap by exploring how entrepreneurship educators can facilitate the personalized learning to develop the Know Why for nascent entrepreneurs in the process of becoming entrepreneurial. We combine theories of entrepreneurship practice, education, and learning to propose a model for entrepreneurial Know Why. We utilize a case study of an entrepreneurship program applying a learning-through-venture-creation approach to identify a pedagogical approach in which learning entrepreneurial Know Why is facilitated. Thus, the purpose of this paper is twofold: to contribute to the theory of entrepreneurial learning and to contribute to the pedagogy for entrepreneurship, by explaining the meaning and significance of the entrepreneurial Know Why and by describing an educational approach that facilitates its development.

entrepreneurial learning

entrepreneurial education

Know Why

nascent entrepreneurs


Karen Williams Middleton

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Anne Donnellon

Babson College

Entrepreneurship Research Journal

2194-6175 (ISSN) 2157-5665 (eISSN)

Vol. 4 2 167-204




Innovation och entreprenörskap

Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete



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