Academic Entrepreneurship Is A Joke


What gets me about the academic contribution to entrepreneurship is that the educational system just does not get it. “MBA” (My Big Achievement) programs are taught using predictive reasoning while most entrepreneurial successes are based on the inverse of this. For instance predictive reasoning assumes there is some pre-determined goal and a given set of means to get there, seeking to identify the most optimal route to get there.

Now ordinarily this is perfect for a developed corporation, or a start-up (after the fact), but not for an entrepreneurial start-up. There is a time for a manager, but it is rarely at the early stages of the venture. In many cases there is no elaborate plan. There may have been a pre-determined goal in the business plan, but without the means to get there the Entrepreneur must achieve the most optimal outcome by accumulated means available which usually includes what is known and who is known.

The ultimate outcome is a hybrid of what was a pre-determined goal, or indeed a completely different result. Predictive reasoning assumes reduced risk whereas an Entrepreneurial reasoning assumes circumstances will change (sometimes drastically) and the skill set requires the ability to adapt and create alternative solutions to problems that were not even perceived at the outset.

I spoke to a group of science students at Gdansk University, Poland recently and asked them if they had many laboratory test failures in their education. Of course the answer was a resounding yes. Failed experiments are a learning experience and you adapt your design until you achieve the most optimal outcome.

Entrepreneurship is a series of experiments evolving to reach a satisfactory or optimal outcome. It may not be what you thought it would be, but it was both a learning experience and a positive result for any one who tries it. That is what academic entrepreneurship should deliver… Failure is the price of an expensive lesson and your PhD is Breakeven.

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