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How Industry Experience Can Help in the Teaching of Entrepreneurship in Universities

How Industry Experience Can Help in the Teaching of Entrepreneurship in Universities

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Published by Sunway University
Written by Liew Yoke Ying
Written by Liew Yoke Ying

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Published by: Sunway University on Jan 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sunway University CollegeNo. 5, Jalan Universiti, Bandar Sunway46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul EhsanTel: +60(3)74918622 Ext. 8360Fax: +60(3)56358633yyliew@sunway.edu.my
The objective of this paper is to find out how industry experience can lend a hand in the delivery method for anEntrepreneurship course or subject. In this study, the method adopted is the focus group interview, whereinindustry practitioners and entrepreneurs share their views on entrepreneurship education and the possiblecontribution of industry to the universities in grooming entrepreneurs. The findings reveal that entrepreneurs canbe trained to a certain extent; internship is the main contribution by industry; and students’ attributes areimportant foundation stones for moulding the students into entrepreneurs. In addition, there is a call for earlytraining of entrepreneurship from primary school and family encouragement from young. The implication touniversities is that teaching entrepreneurship as a subject means sharing knowledge with students while teachingit as a course should entail actual opportunities for students to set up businesses. Universities have to go beyondteaching and researching entrepreneurship and turn collaboration with industry into the catalyst for economicgrowth (Carlsson 2005).Key words: entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurs, industry practitioners, lecturers, students, universities.
The role of entrepreneurship in the development of economies has been repeatedlyresearched. Research findings support that entrepreneurship represents one of the ways inwhich employment is created and economic development is spearheaded (Shane, 2005;Joseph Schumpeter cited in Binks, Starkey & Mahon, 2006, p.12; Gormon
et al.,
1997 citedin Jack & Anderson, 1999, p.110). In addition, internal entrepreneurship (intrapreneurship)promotes corporate innovation (Krueger & Brazeal, 1994). The governments in Europeadvocated university-business contact to promote economic development (Carlsson, 2005,p.203). In Malaysia, there is increasing recognition that entrepreneurship is vital for growth(Roberts, 2006). However, entrepreneurship education in Malaysia is still in its infancy, ascompared to its development in the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and Europe(Tih, Rahid, Chamhuri, & Darawi, 2006). There is only a number of Bachelor and Mastersdegrees in Entrepreneurship offered by the public universities and private universitycolleges, although entrepreneurship as a subject is quite prevalent. Entrepreneurshipprograms are generally designed in theoretical frameworks, and a low percentage offerstudents the opportunity of setting up a business.
Sunway Academic Journal 5
49As Rasmussen and Sørheim (2006) said, universities are important in entrepreneurshipeducation as they provide direct education to students, an avenue for researchcommercialization and a seedbed for sowing new ventures. Given the significance of entrepreneurship education, the objective of this paper is to explore ways in which industryexperience can help in the teaching of entrepreneurship in universities. The findings in thispaper will partially answer Myrah and Currie’s (2006, p.248) suggestion ‘to investigatewhat other stakeholders, such as practicing entrepreneurs, view as legitimate and applicableeducational practices’.This paper will begin with a brief literature review, followed by methodology,findings, analysis and discussion, and conclusion.
 The definition of ‘entrepreneurship’ differs between academia and industry practitioners.Bennett (2006, p.178) views entrepreneurship from the equity and control, rather thaninnovation, aspect. Cromie (2000, cited in Yusof, Sandhu & Jain, 2006, p.3) has a definitionthat fits many Malaysian entrepreneurs:
Entrepreneurship is initiating … and building an enterprise rather than … watching one. It is theknack of sensing opportunities where others see chaos, contradiction and confusion. It is the ability tobuild a ‘founding team’ to complement your own skills and talents. It is the knowledge to find,marshall and control resources … Finally, it is a willingness to take risk. (Cromie, 2000, cited inYusof 
et al.,
2006, p.3)
According to Robinson and Haynes (1991, p.41), entrepreneurship has grown over 20 yearsbefore 1991 and even at that time, improvements in quality of personnel and program werebeing reviewed. Up to the present, academic research has been centered on a few areas. Oncurriculum development, Binks
et al.
(2006) call for the development of current skills andcompetencies, and Gorman and Hanlon, 1997 (cited in Bennett, 2006, p.168) find thatprogram contents are not uniform. Some researchers like Bennett (2006) feel that thecontent focus should be on practical business skills. The belief is that when students knowthe operations of a business, the chances of them succeeding in business are higher. Thismessage is reinforced by Tan and Ng (2006) who advocate collaboration with industry forcontemporary curriculum design.On lecturers’ qualifications and commitment, Bennett’s (2006) study reveals thatteaching commitment can be linked to area specialization or teaching load. The investmentin resources and infrastructure is what Robinson and Haynes (1991) consider vital forquality improvement in entrepreneurship education. This is especially so when academicstaff may not possess multidisciplinary skills and knowledge to enable them to teach thecourse effectively (Tan & Ng, 2006).With regard to delivery mode, the trend is to include activities and alliance withindustry. Direct teacher-student method is not favored (von Forster 1971, cited in Binks
et al.,
2006, p.3). Learning activities together with examinations are recommended (Jones,2006) whereas team teaching and methods like coaching, mentoring and counselling arepromoted (Myrah & Currie, 2006). Some researchers like Collins, Smith and Hannon(2006), Rasmussen and Sørheim (2006) and Tih
et al.
(2006) Johannisson, Landstrom and
Sunway Academic Journal 5
50Rosenburg (1998), recommend a tripartite approach involving student, faculty and industrypractitioner.On students’ aptitude, Lim and Choe (2006) find that business students demonstrate aninclination towards entrepreneurship while family business background is also positivelyrelated (Yusof 
et al.,
2006). Interestingly, the probability of a person with a graduate degreeor post secondary education ending up in an entrepreneurial firm is twice as high as one whodoes not (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report cited in Yusof 
et al.,
2006). Studentswith an entrepreneurship major are also more inclined to start new businesses and havestronger entrepreneurial inclinations (Kolvereid & Moen, 1997).Can education in this field meet the expectations of all the stakeholders and areuniversities the right place to do it (Jack & Anderson, 1999)? Carlsson (2005) is of the viewthat universities have an important economic development role via entrepreneurs’networking. Jack and Anderson (1999) argue that universities should not be focusing onmass production of graduates for the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); theyshould instead emphasize on having graduates who are reflective practitioners. In thismanner, students are able to utilize their knowledge and thinking tools to solve problems,manage risks, be creative and innovative, and exercise their entrepreneurship skills. Assupported by Chia (1996, cited in Jack & Anderson, 1999, p.113), the important thing is thatthe university has done its part by sowing the seeds of entrepreneurial imagination.According to Chapman and Skinner (2006) and Binks
et al.
(2006), collaboration betweenuniversities to bring about an effective exchange of students, lecturers and course contentcan enhance entrepreneurship education.Most of the research studies reviewed utilize a mixture of primary and secondary data.Researchers focus mainly on surveys of syllabi, students and lecturers. A few studies suchas Johannisson
et al.
(1998), Collins (2006), Rasmussen and Sørheim (2006), and Tih
et al.
 (2006), involve the industry practitioners as participants.
 In view of the significance of the input of industry, this study takes the views of industrypractitioners into account. A focus group of 7 entrepreneurs and industry practitioners wasinterviewed to investigate their view of entrepreneurship, whether entrepreneurship could benurtured through university education and how they can contribute to the teaching of entrepreneurship courses. This method was chosen as interaction in the focus group cangenerate rich data (Morgan, 1988, cited in Hussey & Hussey, 1997, p.155).An observer recorded the focus group proceedings while the analysis of the data isbased on content analysis (Hussey & Hussey, 1997, pp.250–253). Since the group wascomparatively small, the views of all the participants were taken into consideration.
 The Appendix summarizes the findings from the focus group. Participant F only answeredQuestion 1 and participant G, who was late, only answered Question 2 and Question 3.Some pertinent remarks made are also shown to capture the richness of the data.

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