All Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE), AISHE-C 2008: Encouraging Student Engagement

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The Entrepreneurial Eco Sytem: - What is it and does it have a role to play in undergraduate entrepreneurship education?
Conor John Heagney, Therese Moylan, Orla Byrne

Last modified: 2009-01-22


The essence of entrepreneurship involves recognising an opportunity, assembling and marshalling the resources together to take advantage of that opportunity and risk taking (Timmons, J et al). The challenge for those engaging in entrepreneurship education is to simulate, in a learning environment, the 'entrepreneurial atmosphere'. The 'entrepreneurial atmosphere' facilitates the development of behaviours and skills that will serve the graduate when faced with entrepreneurial dilemmas in the "real world". In particular the taking of risk, with the inherent potential for failure, is something that higher education institutions by their very nature are not designed to develop or encourage. This simulation of real world challenges is also designed to improve entrepreneurial student engagement in the learning.
The work of Engel and Charron at the Lester Centre, University of California Berkley, proffers the concept of the Entrepreneurial Eco system as an integral component to the development of entrepreneurship education for post-graduate students. This concept is explored in relation to entrepreneurship education at undergraduate level. In particular, this paper seeks to explore the relevance of this concept for entrepreneurship education aimed at business undergraduates in Ireland. The paper outlines a case study of one business programme's attempt to embed entrepreneurship learning outcomes within an undergraduate programme. The steps taken by the teaching team to develop an Entrepreneurial Eco system through the alignment of programme learning outcomes, assessment and teaching and learning are described and evaluated. The radical change in approach to assessment, in particular, is highlighted.


entrepreneurship; eco system; real life simulation; risk-taking