At the USASBE roundtable, we were tasked with leading the discussion in ‘The Use and Importance of Simulations within Entrepreneurship Education Today’. Most of you know that simulations offer an immersive experience and are ideally suited to teach entrepreneurship education. However, since this was a university-level conference, several of the delegates were also interested in understanding the areas of research that simulations can contribute. One area that was clearly identified was teaching with case studies.
Case studies have been used to teach business subjects for a very long time. Almost everyone reading this post can remember being in their business studies class where everything from the BSG matrix, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to Kotler’s P’s were taught using case studies. Ivy league schools like Harvard almost exclusively teach with case studies.
Case studies are fantastic pedagogical tools because they offer the opportunity to codify the experience in rich detail. They serve well when we teach basic business models. However, in entrepreneurship education, the emotions associated with the case study are almost as important as the content of the case study. I doubt any one of you can argue that for a start up business, the personality of the founder, their emotional maturity and their ability to manage themselves efficiently makes a significant impact on their enterprise. Even if a case study details the emotional state of the entrepreneur, feeling those emotions while taking decisions, especially under pressure, is an experience that most students would only get in the real world.
Therefore, our conclusion to the USASBE roundtable discussion was that authentic simulations are necessary to teach entrepreneurship. Authenticity can be described as:
- Experiencing emotional pressure while making decisions
- Experiencing the challenge of balancing time and money
- Experiencing the frustration of constantly changing business situations.