Tuning up the Global Value Creation Engine: The Road to Excellence in International Entrepreneurship Education

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Most of us believe that entrepreneurs are special. We do this because both scholars and practitioners tell us so. Scholars may disagree on the nature of entrepreneurship itself; but they do agree that the results of entrepreneurship are unique and important to economic well-being worldwide. Practitioners likewise. Whether they be policy makers seeking job creation, the popular press which needs an endless supply of biographies and "how-done-it" stories, the beneficiaries of entrepreneurs' generosity that are constantly wooing these potential sources of large endowments, the celebrity-seeking public who - as with sports and entertainment stars - seeks to venerate entrepreneurs as heroic objects, or entrepreneurs themselves, most of whom do not mind a little veneration; it is also well accepted by each category of practitioners that entrepreneurs are special. However, here the agreement seems to stop, at least when it comes to one fundamental issue: how entrepreneurs are created. Scholars continue to argue whether entrepreneurs are born or made (Katz & Shepherd, 2003; Mitchell et al., 2002b), with those of the "born" persuasion pointing to traits (Berlew, 1975; Ibrahaim & Soufani, 2002) such as high locus of control (Rotter, 1966) and need for achievement (McClelland, 1965) as reasons that people become entrepreneurs; and those of the "made" persuasion noting that the psychology of the entrepreneur (Brockhaus, 1982; Brockhaus & Horowitz, 1986) or of new venture creation (Shaver & Scott, 1991) involves much more than traits: such things as person, process and choice (p. 23). Practitioners offer up an almost infinite variety of explanations for entrepreneurial success, the prevailing presumption being that because entrepreneurs are special, then the process of becoming one is also special. Fortunately, mounting evidence is beginning to suggest a new hypothesis ... that while the results of entrepreneurship are indeed important (special, in this parlance), the path to becoming an entrepreneur is not itself special, as previously thought, but is in fact general - rooted in the simple processes of deliberate practice that have been universally associated with creation of the cognitive systems that give rise to excellence in other areas of human endeavor such as sports, games, and the arts (Charness, Krampe, & Mayer, 1996; Ericsson, 1996). And fortunately, the learning models of the deliberate practice school meaningfully situate both trait-statics and process-dynamics within a comprehensive explanation for performance excellence that is rooted in the development (through deliberate practice) of most individuals' cognitive systems. Confirmation of this new hypothesis may have far-reaching implications for entrepreneurship internationally. If the creation of entrepreneurs in reality, depends in a nontrivial manner, upon a process that is generally accessible to any individual who is willing to undertake the deliberate practice, necessary to create in themselves the required entrepreneurial cognitions, then we may ultimately discover that the activities based in the "specialness" paradigm that we have intended should stimulate entrepreneurship (such as entrepreneur of the year, the listing of curiosities such as youth v. wealth, etc.), have in fact discouraged it by inadvertently persuading all but the most bold or foolish (in short, all reasonable persons) that entrepreneurship is not for them. Thus, in the same way that monoplies are harmful to the public good because they limit something that is more or less unlimited, so do our beliefs about entrepreneurs effectively limit the amount of entrepreneurship available to us; because they limit a way of thinking that may otherwise be virtually unlimited when viewed in the light of the emerging deliberate practice paradigm. New approaches to the creation of global entrepreneurs are therefore needed, because entrepreneurship as the global value creation engine, while still running, may in fact be in need of a tune-up, or perhaps even a refit. Where global entrepreneurship is defined as the capability to create new and valuable transactions anywhere on the globe (Mitchell, 2003), then in this chapter we may define global entrepreneurs to be: those individuals whose capability for creating valuable new transactions crosses geographical, cultural, and economic borders; and then consider how we might go about a much more systematic process of creating entrepreneurial expertise. In this two-section chapter I therefore attempt to demonstrate that as a global society we have, in certain ways, been wrong in our approach to entrepreneurship education (both informal and formal), and that a course correction (pun intended) is needed. After presenting some brief background, I outline in Section 3 the relationship between education and high-performance to support the argument that entrepreneurs are special, but are not created in the way that is commonly believed: that there is, in actuality, a general process for creating them. In the fourth section of the chapter, I present and discuss the international implications of the emerging "practice school" of entrepreneurship education for reforming the creation of global entrepreneurs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Entrepreneurship
EditorsDean Shepherd, Jerome Katz
Number of pages64
StatePublished - 2005

Publication series

NameAdvances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth
ISSN (Print)1074-7540


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