Since entrepreneurial activity and intent have a direct bearing on the economy, it is no surprise that entrepreneurship as a topic of study in the top business schools has been on the rise. Business schools have courses on entrepreneurship with a multidisciplinary approach to build skills and mindsets that promote innovation and entrepreneurship. It is the aim to create synergy between existing disciplines such as marketing, strategy, finance and entrepreneurship. The debate is however whether the entrepreneurial spirit and attitude can be imparted in a B-school curriculum.
By designing the right curriculum, it is quite possible to nurture an entrepreneurial mindset.
The fundamental relationship between the entrepreneurship and business
Entrepreneurs make their path in uncharted waters and create a business entity, which in turn creates wealth. A businessperson is tasked with creating a successful and revenue-generating business with pre-existing ideas by employing financial and human resources. An entrepreneur is a market leader while the businessperson creates space in existing markets.
The job of an entrepreneur is to create a seedbed of business. Once the idea is germinated into a viable revenue-generating process, the operations of scale kick in. It is safe to assume that every business idea was an entrepreneurial activity at one time, and every entrepreneurship effort will coalesce into a business once the concept is firm and scaled.
What are we preparing MBA graduates for?
Over the last five years, a growing number of students have been choosing to study entrepreneurship. Almost 15% of candidates opt to it as an elective subject to study. The mainstream study of entrepreneurship is still at a nascent stage because most students always aim to secure high paying jobs in existing businesses after an expensive education in a business school. Pedagogy dictates that academic knowledge should be bolstered with practical intervention.
There is a loss of connection with an imaginative outlook in the current B School environment. A dire need to foster entrepreneurial thought and action is also highly essential. This is crucial for the development and perhaps survival of business entities in due course. It would help to fine-tune and align our curriculum to the growing needs of entrepreneurship mindsets and activities in the economy.
B Schools today emphasise on compliance. The discipline that is the cornerstone of B School ambience can be stifling for creative students who want to learn how to channel their innovative bent of mind. This attitude leads to dissatisfaction. Bright minds need the necessary flexibility to manoeuvre and channelise their creative energy.
Business ventures will continuously need an entrepreneurial lens to generate new business ideas, create innovative products, services and new forms of operational activities.
The uncertain world of business is frequently disrupted. The work environment needs a risk taker to sail through and deliver. We need to produce more graduates who can think out-of-the-box and are risk-takers in a given role too.
Why entrepreneurship must be an intrinsic part of a business education curriculum
Entrepreneurs are wired to take risks and innovate. Creative ways to look at problems and resolve them is the norm that they are expected to possess. Entrepreneurs have the vision to find new answers to old pain points. Out-of-the-box solutions, problem-solving approach to growth blockers and the capability to find disruptive and diverse answers to daily problems defines entrepreneurship abilities. The attitude cannot be built but can be honed and taught to a measure if our education system is geared to incorporate the same from the very beginning. An elective subject in a postgraduate programme will not suffice; the attitude has to be nurtured since pre-school.
The eclectic B School curriculum and teaching methods hone the attitude and create the skills and knowledge to start an entrepreneurial venture. The teaching methods include mentorship and studying the work of other entrepreneurs. The ideas are different but the trajectory remains the same. This trajectory can be similar in the process of turning the concept into real business success. This is a skill that can be a valuable addition to every B School curriculum.
(The author is director, Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow)