From I to We: Collaboration in Entrepreneurship Education and Learning?

Jan Warhuus, Lene Tanggaard, Sarah Robinson, Steffen Moltrup Ernø

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


<p> This paper shows that a focus on the collaborative and distributed character of entrepreneurship, as within the We-paradigm from creativity, does not exclude the importance of perceptions of individuals' self-images as part of a course in entrepreneurship. <h5> Purpose </h5></p><p> The purpose of this paper is to ask: what effect does moving from individual to collective understandings of the entrepreneur in enterprising education have on the student&rsquo;s learning? And given this shift in understanding, is there a need for a new paradigm in entrepreneurship learning? <h5> Design/methodology/approach </h5></p><p> This paper draws on ethnographic data from entrepreneurship education (EEd) at a summer school in Denmark. The purpose of the summer school was to bring the students from an awareness of their own competences to a shared understanding of resources, relationships and opportunities for becoming enterprising. <h5> Findings </h5></p><p> Drawing on the recent developments in understanding creativity, the authors&rsquo; explore the potential for similarities between becoming an entrepreneur in collaboration with others and being creative in collaboration with others. The authors&rsquo; found that a focus on the collaborative and distributed character of entrepreneurship, as within the We-paradigm from creativity, does not exclude the importance of perceptions of individuals&rsquo; self-images as part of a course in entrepreneurship. Yet, a reformulation of these could be an entry point for richer group work and articulation of diverse group potential. <h5> Research limitations/implications </h5></p><p> This study suggests that it is possible to take at least one step further in what can be achieved during an EEd course. Rather than remain a focus on individual learning and treating group work a didactics instrument, team formation processes can be used as a pedagogy/andragogy experiential tool in the classroom with its own learning outcomes, as presented and discussed above. For educators, this means that they have an additional tool to aid the complicated task of bringing EEd to students across campus. For students, this new approach means that the often dreaded and frustrating process of classroom team formation can become a positive experience of purposeful team assembly and collaboration. Two possible limitations regarding the findings of this paper can be identified: for students with extensive experience in forming teams and working in groups, taking them through this process may not have the desired effect as they may rely on habits and known mechanism without much reflection; it may be difficult to achieve the desired effect with students that know each other well before the course starts, as they may have too strong hidden agendas about who they want to work with and who they do not want to work with that this will over-power the idea/opportunity/subject-matter driven approach (Aldrich and Kim, 2007). Educators should consider if they may be subject to these limitations as this may have an effect on the use of active, opportunity-driven team formation in practise. To counter the second limitation, educators may want to consider how far into a course they want to facilitate the team formation; especially for courses running over significantly longer periods than two weeks. Future research may be able to assess the significance of these limitations. <h5> Practical implications </h5></p><p> This paper explores how students experience and handle a shift from an individual to a collaborative understanding of entrepreneurship imposed on them by the novel and unique design of a course that explicitly incorporates the team formation process into the curriculum. This is undertaken to gauge the extent to which students experience this shift as fitting the actual and perceived need for shared practices in developing enterprising behaviour, and to shed light on what action/process-based EEd courses may benefit from actively including a team formation process in the course design. <h5> Social implications </h5></p><p> EEd may be offered for a number of reasons. New enterprises are seen as a potential source of economic wealth and for the student, this type of education offers the possibility of using their knowledge in new ways, becoming entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs. Also, from the perspective of both the higher education institution and the student, in the fast changing world in which we live, the digital mobility and multiplicity of work environments requires a workforce that possesses a range of individual competences. Such as being persistent, engaged and having good ideas, competences that are difficult to teach and hard to learn. Adding to our knowledge of how to handle these concerns, the paper points at a number of social implications of EEd. <h5> Originality/value </h5></p><p> The research conducted in this research paper contributes to the field of EEd by exemplifying how conceptual understandings of entrepreneurship as a collective enterprise, rather than an individual one, impact students&rsquo; understanding and experience of entrepreneurship. Furthermore, it provides a foundation for expanding research aimed at providing students with a learning experience more in line with the everyday life of an entrepreneur.</p>
Original languageAmerican English
JournalEducation & Training
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Learning
  • Higher education
  • Collaborative
  • Course design
  • Student’s perception


  • Business
  • Business Administration, Management, and Operations
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations

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