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As the world faces a paradigm shift driven by the growth of information technologies and knowledge, educators will need to recognise the impact of that change on entrepreneurship learning (Luczkiw, 2008). In Brazil the research on alternative methodologies for entrepreneurship education which should be utilised under this new environmental context is still incipient and has provided few empirical results. Aiming to fill this gap the paper describes and assesses an experiential entrepreneurship teaching strategy developed in a Brazilian university. The main results suggest that the method stimulated students to become future entrepreneurs and helped them to develop some entrepreneurial skills.
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nt. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 16, No. 4, 2014
Copyright © 2014 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for
entrepreneurship: assessment of a Brazilian
experience
Marcelo F. Tete*, Ricardo Limongi,
Marcos Inácio Severo de Almeida and
Cândido Borges
School of Business Administration, Accounting and Economics,
Federal University of Goiás,
Campus Samambaia – P.O. Box 131, ZIP Code 74.001-970,
Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil
E-mail: mftete2003@yahoo.com.br
E-mail: ricardolimongi@gmail.com
E-mail: misevero@yahoo.com.br
E-mail: candidoborges@gmail.com
*Corresponding author
Abstract: As the world faces a paradigm shift driven by the growth of
information technologies and knowledge, educators will need to recognise the
impact of that change on entrepreneurship learning (Luczkiw, 2008). In Brazil
the research on alternative methodologies for entrepreneurship education which
should be utilised under this new environmental context is still incipient and
has provided few empirical results. Aiming to fill this gap the paper describes
and assesses an experiential entrepreneurship teaching strategy developed in a
Brazilian university. The main results suggest that the method stimulated
students to become future entrepreneurs and helped them to develop some
entrepreneurial skills.
Keywords: entrepreneurship; learning; entrepreneurial; education; experiential;
innovation; education; entrepreneurship learning; entrepreneurial education.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Tete, M.F., Limongi, R.,
de Almeida, M.I.S. and Borges, C. (2014) ‘Experiential learning as teaching
strategy for entrepreneurship: assessment of a Brazilian experience’, Int. J.
Innovation and Learning, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp.428–447.
Biographical notes: Marcelo F. Tete teaches marketing in the School of
Business Administration, Accounting and Economics at Universidade Federal
de Goiás. He is a PhD student at Universidade de Brasília (Interinstitutional
Doctoral Program UnB/UFG) in Business Administration. He received his MS
in Business Administration at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas
Gerais. His current research interest includes entrepreneurship marketing,
innovation policy and interorganisational networks.
Ricardo Limongi is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the School of
Business Administration, Accounting and Economics (FACE/UFG) at
Universidade Federal de Goiás. He is a PhD student at Fundação Getúlio
Vargas, São Paulo, Brazil. His current research interest includes entrepreneurial
marketing, marketing in the small firms and social networks.
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 429
Marcos Inácio Severo de Almeida is an Assistant Professor of Marketing
in the School of Business Administration, Accounting and Economics at
Universidade Federal de Goiás. He is a PhD student at Universidade de Brasília
(Interinstitutional Doctoral Program UnB/UFG) in Business Administration.
His current research interest includes marketing and brand management.
Cândido Borges is an Adjoint Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Federal
University of Goiás Business School (FACE/UFG), Brazil. His research
interest includes new venture creation, entrepreneurship policy, technological
spin-offs and social capital. He is a member of the board of the ANEGEPE
(Brazilian National Association of Entrepreneurship and Small Business
Studies). He received his PhD in Management from HEC Montréal, Canada.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled ‘Experiential
learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurial marketing education:
description of an experience and assessment of its impacts on students careers’
presented at the Global Research Symposium on Entrepreneurship, Marketing
and Entrepreneurship Education, Rio de Janeiro, 2011.
1 Introduction
The demand to learn entrepreneurship is increasing at the higher education level and the
trend in most universities is to expand their educational programmes and develop new
curricula for students of this discipline, especially after the publication of studies that
highlight the important role performed by higher education institutions in
entrepreneurship education in US (Katz, 2003; Karatas-Özkan and Chell, 2010; Kuratko,
2004; Potter, 2008) and Brazilian (Souza et al., 2004) contexts.
A discussion that accompanies the growth of entrepreneurship teaching, as well as the
need for its learning, refers to the way curricular contents are transmitted in the classroom
environment. The entrepreneur can be identified as an individual whose behaviour is
associated to innovation, action and creation of new products and businesses and who
acts in a professional reality characterised by the existence of deadlines, uncertainty,
complexity, ambiguous conditions and undefined problems (Nab et al., 2010; Shook et
al., 2003). And it is also correct to assert that entrepreneurs engage in formal and
informal learning activities such as higher education courses or learning groups (Erdélyi,
2010). However, in the higher education level, traditional teaching methods with no room
for innovation and creation still prevail (Anderson et al., 2001; McKeachie, 2002) and the
same seems to be occurring in the entrepreneurship education. A study carried out by
Wilson (2008) in Europe shows that entrepreneurship teaching is also replicating this
model, since most of the entrepreneurship courses in that region are based on traditional
lecture methods.
Bechard (2000) states that most methods utilised in entrepreneurship courses are
basically of reproduction. These methods are characterised by traditional lectures,
demonstration, modular contents and predominant repetitive exercises. Literature on
entrepreneurship education highlights the importance of developing and utilising
different methods and techniques, instead of mere knowledge reproduction, pointing out
the need for adopting procedures which facilitate the experience of the entrepreneurship
process (Bechard, 2000; Katz, 2003; Ramos and Ferreira, 2004; Souza et al., 2004) and
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the learning of competences such as selling, creating new products, managing business
relationships, identifying opportunities and creativity (Aronsson, 2004; Souza et al.,
2004).
Some researchers emphasise the need and importance of the development and
application of alternative teaching methods and techniques which are able to facilitate
entrepreneurial experiences instead of the automatic reproduction of contents. This group
of scholars advocates the incorporation of innovative methods which may help to develop
attitudinal and cognitive competences in the individual entrepreneur (Aronsson, 2004;
Bechard, 2000; Katz, 2003; Ramos and Ferreira, 2004; Souza et al., 2004). Among the
examples of these teaching modalities are different models of experiential learning (EL)
and practical simulations of new businesses development (Clouse, 1990; Daly, 2001;
Leitch and Harrison, 1999; Sexton and Upton, 1987). In Brazil, some researchers have
initiated attempts to understand the process by which undergraduate students learn
entrepreneurial skills and characteristics, but their efforts have not yet yielded robust
results that allow either descriptions or assessments of alternative entrepreneurship
teaching methods.
One of the alternatives for different methods of teaching is based on the EL model
(Kolb, 1984) which is also applied to entrepreneurship education (Kuratko, 2005;
Solomon, 2008). Herein referred to EL, under this method students may experience
situations whereby they process knowledge, skills and attitudes as the model’s elements
of the leaning cycle and its predicted learning types are used to understand the various
learning stages and different modes in which individuals receive and process new
information (Akella, 2010; Hoover and Whitehead, 1975). Though, despite its
acknowledgement as a possible strategy for entrepreneurship teaching, few studies –
especially in Brazil – describe or assess EL method under the perspective of who learns:
the student.
This paper seeks to fill this gap observed in the entrepreneurship teaching literature
by presenting an experiential methodology conducted with undergraduate students in a
Brazilian university – Federal University of Rondonia (UFRO). The paper is organised
around two purposes:
1 a description of an experiential teaching methodology based on Kolb (1984) in order
to contribute to the extant knowledge on the theme
2 to gather and analyse the results obtained from an exploratory research aimed to get
undergraduates’ evaluation of the experiential methodology.
The experiential project was carried out in 2009 with 90 undergraduate students from the
Business Administration course at UFRO who were enrolled in the Marketing Research
and Management Consulting curricular disciplines. A descriptive and exploratory study
was conducted utilising an ex post facto survey in order to assess the impact of this
experience on the students’ career and on the development of knowledge, skills and
attitudes in the entrepreneurship context.
The text is structured as follows: Section 2 and 3 provides the study’s theoretical
foundations by reviewing the problems in the existing teaching methods of
entrepreneurship and EL and their applications in entrepreneurship education. This is
followed by Section 4 devoted to the presentation of the research method, sample and
measurements. Section 5 discusses the research results based on the experiential project
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 431
description and on an exploratory data analysis. Finally, considerations of the
contributions, limitations and implications of the article are made for future research.
2 Problems in the existing teaching methods of entrepreneurship
The recognition that entrepreneurship is the engine powering the economy of many
nations has generated an increasing interest in the development of educational
programmes in order to enhance entrepreneurship (Gorman et al., 1997). In USA, for
example, a great expansion of entrepreneurship educational programmes throughout the
last decades has been reported (Kuratko, 2003; 2004; 2005), including the chronology
and intellectual trajectory descriptions of this expansion, especially at the higher
education level (Katz, 2003). From the 92 articles selected by Gorman et al. (1997), most
of them approached entrepreneurship education in the formal education context, many of
them focusing higher education. This seems to be the locus of great developments in the
entrepreneurship education since that, according to Kuratko (2004, p.5), “the trend in
most universities is to develop or expand entrepreneurship programs and design unique
and challenging curricula specifically designed for entrepreneurship students”.
The role and importance of higher education for the entrepreneurship education are
objects of an OECD book that among other aspects compares contents and pedagogies
utilised for entrepreneurship teaching in several countries (Potter, 2008). In this book
Solomon (2008) states that, besides the courses contents, higher education institutions are
challenged to design effective entrepreneurial learning opportunities for entrepreneurship
students, which will demand from the educators courses, programmes and fields of study
crafted to meet the rigors of academia and simultaneously keep a reality-based focus and
entrepreneurial climate in the learning environment.
Solomon’s argument seems to lie in a concern about the risks of traditionalism in
entrepreneurship education, as alerted in the 90’s by Garavan and O’Cinneide (1994, p.8)
when they asserted: “it appears that entrepreneurship teaching has not undergone
significant change”. Traditionalism in pedagogical techniques utilised in entrepreneurship
teaching at the higher education seems to be a remarking characteristic in European
countries. According to an analysis made by Wilson (2008) based on the work conducted
by the European Foundation for Entrepreneurship Research (EFER), most European
entrepreneurship courses are still taught by means of traditional lectures. Bechard (2000),
in an assessment of 146 entrepreneurship courses spread over five continents, as well as
Souza et al. (2004) in an investigation about entrepreneurship teaching methods and
techniques in Brazilian universities, came to the same conclusion.
The United States seem to be following a different path leading the way in matters of
innovation in teaching methods (Potter, 2008). An example of this is the observation that
the adoption of project-based EL is widespread in US entrepreneurial education through
the utilisation of diverse teaching tools (Solomon, 2008), what confirms a trend pointed
out by the study of Solomon et al. (1994). The US example has been a reference for other
countries (Potter, 2008; Wilson, 2008), as it corroborates the idea that entrepreneurs learn
through an experiential process where the personal experience is transformed into
knowledge (Politis, 2005).
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In his recommendations on fostering entrepreneurship policies for OECD’s
governments, development agencies and high education institutions, Potter (2008)
summarises nicely this standpoint:
“Entrepreneurship teaching is best undertaken not through classroom lectures
on their own, as has been the case in many early entrepreneurship courses, but
through a series of more interactive, reality-based and experiential approaches.
Such approaches may include virtual or real business creations, business plans
competitions, strategy games and discussions with entrepreneurs. These
methods are better placed than classroom lectures to support the development
of key entrepreneurial behaviours such as creativity, innovation, teamwork,
understanding of the external environment, networking and so on.” (p.315)
Summing up, there are empirical evidences that traditional entrepreneurship teaching
methods are beginning to open paths for new experiential methods and tools like those
ones reported by Kuratko (2005): business plans, student business start-ups, consultation
with practicing entrepreneurs, computer simulations, behavioural simulations, interviews
with entrepreneurs, environmental scans, ‘live’ cases, field trips and the use of videos and
films. EL is theorised by Kolb (1984) who drawing on the work of prominent 20th
century human learning and development scholars – notably John Dewey, Kurt Lewin,
Jean Piaget, William James, Carl Jung, Paulo Freire, Carl Rogers and others – develop a
useful framework for learning centred educational innovation, including instructional
design, curriculum development, and lifelong learning (Kolb and Kolb, 2008). This
framework is briefly described in the next section and its application in entrepreneurship
education is discussed.
3 EL and its applications in entrepreneurship education
The EL model proposed by Kolb (1984) is an integrative perspective that enables the
comprehension of the relation between learning, work and the creation of knowledge
itself. EL includes the necessary tools for understanding the process of acquisition and
transformation of information by individuals and how the behaviour of this process
results in different opportunity recognition and exploitation abilities in the entrepreneurial
context (Corbett, 2005). According to Kolb (1984) learning is understood as a holistic
and continuous process that involves experiences able to provide an integrated
functioning of the total organism, like thinking, feeling, perceiving and behaving.
Kolb (1984, p.38) defines learning as “the process whereby knowledge is created
through the transformation of experience”. The cyclic model that he suggests includes the
stages of active experimentation, concrete experience, reflective observation and abstract
conceptualisation and additionally follows a dual dialectically mode of grasping
experience and transforming it, which jointly “defines a holistic learning space wherein
learning transactions take place between individuals and the environment” [Kolb and
Kolb, (2008), p.42]. This dialectically mode establishes two approaches in which an
individual acquire information, via apprehension or via comprehension (Corbett, 2005),
and the “four learning styles that are associated with different approaches to learning:
diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating” [Kolb and Kolb, (2005),
p.196]. Although it is criticised for its limitations to the classroom learning (Grair, 2002;
Gremler et al., 2000; Neale et al., 2009), Kolb (1984, p.32) emphasises that the EL
learning process is “considerably broader than that commonly associated with the school
classroom”. Figure 1 illustrates the EL process.
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 433
Previous works on EL indicate a positive evaluation of the method by students and
research academic community. According to Daly (2001, p.204), EL “is an effective way
to study ‘real-world’ entrepreneurship and retail management”, particularly if it is
considered that individuals learn in different ways and that these learning modes foster
significant impacts on opportunity identification and exploitation process (Corbett, 2005).
Robinson (1996) adds that EL dynamics contributes for entrepreneurship education as it
ensures that learning opportunities transcend cognitive knowledge acquisition through the
inclusion of anxiety and excitement associated with a new venture. Another important
consideration on EL application refers to the professor’s reorientation efforts during the
teaching process. According to Daly (2001, p.214), “much more time is spent on
individual counseling than the conventional lecture-discussion or case-analysis class”.
These results also seem to converge to those obtained from the method application in
marketing education context (Bobbit et al., 2000; Bridges, 1999; Gremler et al., 2000;
Petkus, 2000).
Figure 1 EL process
Source: Adapted from Kolb and Kolb (2008)
But, what should be Kolb’s EL model advantage for the current entrepreneurship
teaching practices? Dhliwayo (2008) notes that EL provides the experience
transformation into knowledge when it allows the learner to leave the classroom
environment to base his learning process on real life routines. This author differentiates
between traditional methods and EL and proposes a training model for small businesses
creation. Through a technology which predicts a business plan operationalisation aided
by the internet, Daly (2001) adds that students learn more effectively when they make
contact with concrete experiences, such as creating and maintaining businesses, that
ensure interactions with other students, the community, the faculty and the disciplines
which have borders with entrepreneurship (e.g., e-commerce and marketing
management).
It is possible to maintain that unlike traditional entrepreneurship teaching methods EL
ensures that individuals internalise attitudes when they are faced positively or negatively
by different situations in their lives or work (Brewer and Hewstone, 2003). Politis and
Gabrielsson (2009) study, for example, suggests that more favourable attitudes towards
failure could be learned through entrepreneurs’ life and work and that previous start up
experience is associated with a more positive attitude towards failure. Experiential
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models therefore provide the most important and valuable learning experiences in the
extent that they take for granted the emergence of critical situations in which individuals
have the possibility to experience the consequences of their actions and decisions.
Although its use is widespread over the US entrepreneurship education (see Solomon,
2008), methods like EL are not predominant in Brazilian higher education institutions
(Souza et al., 2004). This finding is corroborated by the survey of Ramos and Ferreira
(2004) on entrepreneurship education practices and contents in business administration
courses, which indicates the need for the development of an entrepreneurial education
methodology based on experimentation. This recommendation, nevertheless, seems to
constitute a great challenge because as pointed out by the Alberti et al. (2004) discussion
on the status of current research on entrepreneurship education, one of the main problems
in this area may lie in measuring the results of the entrepreneurial educational process,
since the means for assessing it are not well defined neither standardised yet.
4 Method
4.1 Research method, sample and measurements
Considering that the purpose of this study is to describe and evaluate, under the
participants’ point of view, the process of EL as a teaching method based on an
experiential project carried out in 2009 with Brazilian undergraduate students of a
business administration course, a descriptive and exploratory empirical research was
conducted.
The descriptive approach was used in order to report the learning experience and,
similarly to the study conducted by Li et al. (2007) on the adoption of EL in an MBA
curriculum, to provide further support for the exploratory analysis of students’
perceptions, opinions and reviews about the learning experience, contributions for their
professional careers, as well as for the development of their knowledge, skills and
entrepreneurial attitudes. This part of the study was primarily based on the records the
first author – the project’s creator and coordinator – have made during the planning and
execution phases of the EL project.
In defining the target population for the ex-post survey two criteria were established:
1 students should be enrolled in the curricular disciplines of marketing research or
management consulting by the time of the project execution in 2009
2 they should be effectively graduated by the time of the survey application.
This last requirement could only be met in the third quarter of 2011 when most of the
students got their Bachelor degree.
For contacting the students it was crucial the support offered by the academic
department of UFRO which provided an updated e-mail list of all those students who
were both enrolled in the two required disciplines in 2009 and graduated in 2011. Ninety
individuals met these requirements which were distributed according to the following
enrollment status: 41 students in the marketing research discipline and 49 in the
management consulting. Then, based on this e-mail list the authors sent an electronic
message with a link to an online survey webpage where the respondent would find
24 structured questions whose contents were divided for analytical ends along the
following research categories:
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 435
1 entrepreneurial intention
2 impact on the development of entrepreneurial skills
3 impact on career and entrepreneurial experiences
4 methodology for evaluation by the student.
These categories and their respective scales are presented in the Table 1.
Table 1 Categories and scales
Category Question content Scale
Entrepreneurial intention Behavioural changes towards
entrepreneurship Completely disagree = 1;
completely agree = 5
Impact on the
development of
entrepreneurial skills
Opportunities identification Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
Opportunities assessment Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
Partners choice Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
Teamwork Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
New venture creation planning Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
New venture resources
mobilisation Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
New products development Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
Promotion and communication Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
Sales Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
New venture management Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
New brands creation and
development Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
Relationships and partnerships
development Do not contributed = 1;
contributed a lot = 5
Impact on career and
entrepreneurial
experiences
Development of own business Dummy: yes = 1; no = 2
Participation in the development
of someone else’s business Dummy: yes = 1; no = 2
Participation in the development
of a new product, service or
process (intrapreneurship)
Dummy: yes = 1; no = 2
Ability to apply entrepreneurship
concepts professionally Completely unable = 1;
completely able = 5
Ability in relating project to
entrepreneurial reality Completely disagree = 1;
completely agree = 5
Project importance to
entrepreneurial formation Completely unimportant = 1;
extremely important = 5
Project contribution to
professional formation Completely unimportant = 1;
extremely important = 5
Methodology for
assessment of student Methodology evaluation to the
entrepreneurship learning Very bad = 1; very good = 5
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The research categories were developed based on EL model learning modes (Kolb,
1984), in order to identify the experience impact on students’ entrepreneurial intention, as
well as on entrepreneurial skills and career development, and finally to obtain an
evaluation, under the students standpoint, of the utilised methodology after their
participation in the experiential project.
The online survey was completed by 54 students, achieving a return rate of 60%. The
responses reliability was tested by using the Cronbach’s alpha, which indicated a
coefficient of 81.9%, considered a positive result for the continuity of the study according
to Hair et al. (2010). In the next section the details of the developed EL project are
described and thereafter the results of the exploratory ex-post survey are analysed.
5 Analysis and results
5.1 EL description
At the beginning of the second academic semester of 2009, it was proposed to the sixth
and eighth term students of the business administration course at UFRO, respectively
enrolled in the disciplines of marketing research and management consulting, the
realisation of a complementary learning experience: a group work project named
FEIMARC (abbreviation for the Portuguese expression Feira de Marketing the Cacoal –
‘City of Cacoal Marketing Trade Fair’). Although not originally conceived as a learning
experience referenced on Kolb (1984) EL model, it was actually based on the so called
‘learning by doing’ concept and its main objective was to integrate entrepreneurship and
marketing knowledge. In a specific way, it intended to apply marketing research
techniques to new products development (and to the development of their respective
business plans) based on the local raw materials biodiversity, in order to exhibit and sell
them in a small trade fair organised by the students themselves at the end of the semester.
The option for these materials was intentionally based on the local sustainable
development perspective, since the State of Rondonia where UFRO is located is part of
the Amazon Region and it has been very well known nationally as one of the most
deforested states of that Brazilian region. As a final result, it was expected the
development of value added products, sufficiently presentable to be exhibited and
marketed in the trade fair. The experiential project was designed and coordinated by just
one professor who was at the same time responsible for teaching both disciplines above
mentioned.
The FEIMARC Project proposal was built, inspired by the objective-and-task logic,
e.g., both raw materials and final products (core products) were previously defined by the
coordinator professor in order to establish a challenge that should be overcome by
students. Thus, the sixth term students (enrolled in the marketing research discipline)
were divided into nine work teams and a specific raw material was attributed to each one.
Each team was challenged to design and implement, based on its respective raw material,
a marketing research project aimed to gather data and information on a target market for
the envisioned product(s) and on its(their) respective production process(es).
Additionally, the work teams were also encouraged to develop secondary (optional)
products that could be made from the same raw materials which were assigned to them.
Table 2 presents a list of the raw materials used, as well as their derived core and
secondary product categories.
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 437
Table 2 List of raw materials, core products and secondary products
Raw material Core product Secondary products
(optional)
Cocoa Handmade chocolate Chocolate candies filled
with regional liquor
Bamboo Furniture (chair, sofa) Decoration objects
Banana Straw banana Banana tree fiber
handcrafts
Fish leather Fish leather shoes Fish leather accessories
Babassu/buriti/
tucuma/Brazil nuts Essential oil (value added
raw material) Cosmetics
Buriti straw Fashion clothes Fashion accessories
Yam/sweet potato Starch (value added raw
material) Brazilian cheese breads,
cakes, etc.
Araçá-boi and cupuassu/tucuma pulp Concentrated juice Ice creams
Conillon coffee Coffee essential oil (value
added raw material) Cosmetics
Since raw materials and final products were already determined by the coordinator
professor, all work teams had on their hands a technological challenge: to make feasible
the production process. For that purpose, all sixth term work teams were directed to
research the necessary production steps for manufacturing the finished products, in the
following sources of information:
1 SBRT (online Brazilian service of technical answers)
2 academic articles and technical books or reports
3 companies and universities websites
4 face-to-face interviews with local entrepreneurs or executives experienced either in
the production/marketing of similar products or in some stage of the production
process of the product concerned
5 contacts with other researchers or faculty of regional universities.
Simultaneously to the sixth term tasks, other nine corresponding work teams were formed
in the eighth term class. To them it was assigned the challenge to render consulting
services for the sixth term work teams. In other words, by using the concepts and
techniques of the management consulting discipline these students received two
responsibilities:
1 support sixth term work teams in research activities related to the product
development process (data and information gathering)
2 writing business plans for every core product developed.
Both classes work teams used the entire academic semester to develop their products and
respective business plans. The second phase of FEIMARC was the trade fair
organisation, a culminating event of the learning experience designed to share with the
University student body and local community the results of the integrated entrepreneurial
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and marketing efforts of the students involved in the project. Due to a great effort of
advertisement and word-of-mouth actions performed by the two participating classes,
more than 300 visitors attended the event, a number that exceeded the expectations for
public attendance. In addition to the developed products exhibition, all the work teams
had to sell products and present to interested visitors the details of their business plans.
As a final task, all the sixth term work teams had to allocate specific members to
interview trade fair visitors’ and collect data about their buying behaviour, satisfaction
level and buying intentions regarding the developed and exhibited products. Finally, after
the trade fair, the coordinator professor received a printed copy of all research reports
generated from that activity and of all the business plans, in order to evaluate, correct
them and feedback the students with a performance assessment.
5.2 Exploratory study
The exploratory phase was conducted by using descriptive statistics in order to check the
frequency of the responses obtained from the 54 respondents. The aim of this analysis
was to examine based on the research categories how the EL activity influenced student’s
relationship with entrepreneurship after their participation in the FEIMARC project. The
findings of this effort are presented below grouped by research category.
5.2.1 Entrepreneurial intention
The first analysed category had the purpose to identify whether the entrepreneurial
intentions – the acknowledgement of the necessary behavioural changes towards
entrepreneurship – were influenced by the entrepreneurial experience enabled by the
EL project. The half of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that passing through the business
creation, product research and marketing and sales phases influenced positively their
intentions to become a future entrepreneur. Considering the other 29.6% who only
‘agreed’ there is an evidence that EL project was influential in their mind change toward
the entrepreneurship intentions.
5.2.2 Impact on the development of entrepreneurial skills
The second category refers to the impacts of the EL project on the development of
entrepreneurial skills. The aspects examined in this category were: opportunities
identification; opportunities assessment; partnerships opportunities; teamwork; new
venture creation planning; new venture resources mobilisation; new products
development; promotion and communication; sales; new venture management; new
brands creation and development; and relationships and partnerships development.
Regarding the ability to identify a new business opportunities, 70.4% of respondents
reported a ‘contribution’ from de EL activity and 66.7% also considered that the EL
activity ‘contributed’ to their development of skills in assessing those opportunities. For
51.9%, the EL project ‘contributed very much’ to their ability to identify opportunities
for partnerships. Thus, these results indicate that FEIMARC project in general terms
collaborated for the development of skills related to opportunities recognition and
assessment.
Probably due to the fact that the experiential activity was developed based on work
teams, 94.4% of students stated that FEIMARC ‘contributed’ or ‘contributed a lot’ to
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 439
their teamwork skills. Another aspect that may have favoured this positive impact is the
fact that during the entrepreneurial experience the coordinator professor assisted all the
participants to improve their interpersonal relationships and to negotiate their ideas and
projects inside the work groups.
The second set of questions of the survey also aimed to identify the contribution of
the EL project to other aspects of a new venture, from its planning phase to the selling of
the manufactured products.
Regarding the ability to plan the creation and the development of a new venture,
98.1% answered that the EL activity ‘contributed’ or ‘contributed a lot’, as for 59.3% the
experience only ‘contributed’ to the resources mobilisation ability, which demonstrates
that the EL project was important for the formation of planning skills necessary for the
initial phases of a new venture. The skills associated to resources mobilisation, which
include raising of funds, were relatively improved.
For 51.9% of students the experiential project ‘contributed’ to the skills related to the
development of new products. This result may be due to the fact that FEIMARC enabled
an experience in which students could participate and decide how the products would be
manufactured and how their brands would be developed and managed. For 68.5% the
experience also ‘contributed’ to new brands creation and development, a perception that
was likely validated at the moment when the products were exhibited in the trade fair and
the all the work teams made efforts to advertise and sell them. This result is close to the
55.6% of respondents who stated, regarding the promoting, communicating and selling
skills, that the EL project ‘contributed’ to their ability to deal with these marketing
aspects of a business.
For 63% of respondents, the EL project ‘contributed’ to the development of their
ability to manage new ventures. This result may be an evidence that working in a project,
from the conception of a new idea to the moment when the enterprise should be managed,
was helpful to the comprehension of how to run a business and of the difficulties and
opportunities associated to it.
The last skill analysed in the ‘impact on the development of entrepreneurial skills’
category is the development of relationships and partnerships. For 46.3% of students
FEIMARC project only ‘contributed’ and other 46.3% estimated that it ‘contributed a lot’
to the improvement of their capacity to establish relations and partnerships. This result
may be the effect of discussing the product development with potential raw material
suppliers or negotiating with consumers during the trade fair.
5.2.3 Impact on career and on entrepreneurial experiences
In this third research category the objective is to identify aspects such as: development of
an own business; participation in the development of someone else’s business;
participation in the development of a new product, service or process; ability to apply
entrepreneurship concepts professionally; ability in relating the experiential project to
entrepreneurial reality; the importance of the EL project to entrepreneurial formation;
and, finally, the project contribution for the professional formation.
For 79.6% of students there was a positive impact on their knowledge related to how
to develop an own business based on the learning from the project experience, while for
74.1% there wasn’t any impact on the knowledge related to the development of someone
else’s business or to the development of a new product. These results reveal that the EL
project contributed more to the entrepreneurship seen as a process of new business
440
M
.F. Tete et al.
creation (own business) than to the intrapreneurship seen as practice inside an existing
business.
The results show that 40.7% of respondents reported that after the FEIMARC project
they felt ‘capable’ or ‘fully capable’ to apply entrepreneurship concepts professionally.
An interesting result is that other 57.4% of respondents stated that even after participating
in the experiential activity they felt little capable to apply the concepts professionally,
what indicates a relative insecurity regarding an eventual entrepreneurial action.
Among the respondents 55.6% ‘agreed totally’ with the contribution of the project to
the understanding of the entrepreneur reality which may facilitate the interaction between
their own acquired experience from the EL project with the market reality. And for
44.4%, the project was extremely important for their entrepreneurial formation as well as
for their professional formation –46.3% of respondents. It evidences that the contact with
an entrepreneurial experience in an academic environment was very positive for their
future entrepreneurial and professional career.
5.2.4 Evaluation of the EL methodology
As a way to examine the adequacy of the EL methodology proposed by the FEIMARC
project, this last research category allowed to find that 87% of respondents evaluated it as
‘good’ or ‘very good’, which demonstrated the importance of the development of new
pedagogical entrepreneurship experiences aimed to develop practical experiences in
undergraduate students.
6 Conclusions
The debate on the future of entrepreneurial education is supported by the international
academic literature. Luczkiw (2008, p.91), for example, points to a paradigm shift that
“need to recognize the changing dynamics of the global landscape and the major impact
of that change on teaching” and learning. This point of view is shared by Katz (2003),
who indicates the existence of an uncertainty about this paradigm nature. These
arguments also trigger Brazilian researchers’ interest: in a broader sense there is a
demand for the application of teaching methodologies favourable to entrepreneurial
context, based on discussion, reflection (Souza et al., 2004) and experimentation, whose
outcomes are measured in terms of satisfaction and method effectiveness (Ramos and
Ferreira, 2004).
Although there is a need for a careful planning of methodologies which can increase
students’ satisfaction rates and contribute to the learning experience (Mahrous and
Ahmed, 2010), previous works have demonstrated that there is room for methodologies
which reach positive feedbacks (Bobbit et al., 2000), increase students’ collaboration
levels (Gremler et al., 2000; Petkus, 2000) and their commitment to the course (Bridges,
1999). The present paper therefore adds two important contributions to this ongoing
debate as it reports and assesses an EL methodology utilised as a complementary
teaching method with 90 undergraduate students of a business administration course in a
Brazilian university.
The first contribution is a description of the FEIMARC project, an experiential
teaching methodology which itself may be an available benchmark to be reproduced,
adapted and refined by other professors, especially those ones from the entrepreneurship
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 441
and marketing who can promote the interface between these disciplines as argued by the
authors of the ‘entrepreneurial marketing’ field (Carson, 1999, 2010; Gilmore and
Coviello, 1999; Morris et al., 2002). The second contribution refers to the results
presentation from an ex-post survey applied to a sample of former students who
participated of FEIMARC and in 2011 already holding their Bachelor degrees evaluated
retrospectively the entrepreneurship learning yielded from that experiential project.
The survey results showed that the EL project collaborated for the potentialisation of
the students’ intentions to become entrepreneurs as the large majority of respondents
confirmed this purpose. Regarding the development of entrepreneurial skills, the main
generated impacts were on the abilities related to the identification of business
opportunities and the teamwork, as well as on skills in planning new ventures and
creating and developing new brands.
The EL project was also considered as positive by the participating students as it
added the knowledge on ‘how to’ develop an own business, and on the understanding of
the reality faced routinely by entrepreneurs as well. Furthermore, it was found that
experiential project was generally considered important for professional and
entrepreneurial formation.
Regarding the experiential methodology itself, the vast majority of students evaluated
it as a good or a very good manner of entrepreneurship learning thereby enhancing the
recommendations of Potter (2008) for whom the entrepreneurship is best undertaken
through a series of a more interactive, reality-based and experiential approaches. This
result strengthen the claim of some Brazilian and international scholars who advocate the
utilisation of teaching strategies that are likely to follow the paradigm shift in the
entrepreneurship field (Luczkiw, 2008; Katz, 2003). In other words, the findings of this
study represent an interesting opportunity for conducting new investigations on the
subject of entrepreneurship education.
But, regardless the apparently successful results, an interesting result called the
attention: 57.4% of respondents stated that even after participating in the experiential
activity they felt relatively unprepared to apply the concepts professionally. It may be
interpreted as a natural insecurity of recent graduates or a measurement scale bias given
that other results point to an opposite direction.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that this paper brings a description of a
methodology applied in the Brazilian context: a country that has individuals with good
perceptions for opportunities, but afraid to fail in new ventures startups (Greco et al.,
2010). More precisely its operationalisation occurred in a very specific regional context
of Brazilian reality, in an attempt to encourage the development of products based on the
local raw materials biodiversity. If this experience is to be replicated in other national
contexts some adaptations considering the local reality are recommended.
Finally, some limitations in this study need to be mentioned. The first one refers to
the time lag between the project accomplishment and the assessment of the yielded
results. Although it was an arbitrary choice by the authors it is highly recommended for
those who wish to replicate the reported experiential project in other settings, an
immediate performance evaluation of students right after the execution of the requested
tasks. The second limitation is related to the failure in generalising the results found in
the survey due to the reduced population and sample.
The third limitation refers to descriptive nature of the study which is a caveat from
Peterman and Kennedy (2003) who argue that descriptive techniques are not likely to
442
M
.F. Tete et al.
provide persuasive proofs that entrepreneurship can be influenced by educational
programmes.
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Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 445
Appendix
Table A Summary table of results
Category Question Scales Frequency
Percentage
(%)
Entrepreneurial
intention My entrepreneurial
intention was
influenced positively
by participating in the
experiential project.
Strongly disagree - -
Disagree - -
Indifferent 11 20.4%
Agree 16 29.6%
Strongly agree 27 50%
Impact on the
development of
entrepreneurial
skills
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in identifying
business opportunities.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed - -
Indifferent 1 1.9%
Contributed 38 70.4%
Contributed a lot 15 27.8%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in assessing
business opportunities.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed - -
Indifferent 1 1.9%
Contributed 36 66.7%
Contributed a lot 17 31.5%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in choosing
partners.
Do not contributed 1 1.9%
Shortly contributed 4 7.4%
Indifferent 7 13%
Contributed 28 51.9%
Contributed a lot 14 25.9%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in working in
teams.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 2 3.7%
Indifferent 1 1.9%
Contributed 23 42.6%
Contributed a lot 28 51.9%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in planning the
creation of a new
venture.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 1 1.9%
Indifferent - -
Contributed 28 51.9%
Contributed a lot 25 46.3%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in mobilising
resources for new
ventures.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 2 3.7%
Indifferent 1 1.9%
Contributed 32 59.3%
Contributed a lot 19 35.2%
446
M
.F. Tete et al.
Table A Summary table of results (continued)
Category Question Scales Frequency
Percentage
(%)
Impact on the
development of
entrepreneurial
skills
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in developing
new products.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 2 3.7%
Indifferent - -
Contributed 28 51.9%
Contributed a lot 24 44.4%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in promoting
and communicating.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 1 1.9%
Indifferent 3 5.6%
Contributed 30 55.6%
Contributed a lot 20 37%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in sales.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 3 5.6%
Indifferent 4 7.4%
Contributed 30 55.6%
Contributed a lot 17 31.5%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in managing a
new venture.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 1 1.9%
Indifferent - -
Contributed 37 68.5%
Contributed a lot 16 29.6%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in creating and
developing new
brands.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 1 1.9%
Indifferent 2 3.7%
Contributed 34 63%
Contributed a lot 17 31.5%
Contribution of the
experience to the
development of my
ability in establishing
relationships and
partnerships.
Do not contributed - -
Shortly contributed 2 3.7%
Indifferent 2 3.7%
Contributed 25 46.3%
Contributed a lot 25 46.3%
Impact on career
and
entrepreneurial
background
The experience
impacted positively
my knowledge on
‘how to’ develop an
own business?
Yes 11 20.4%
No 43 79.6%
The experience
impacted positively
my participation in the
development of
someone else’s
business?
Yes 14 25.9%
No 40 74.1%
Experiential learning as teaching strategy for entrepreneurship 447
Table A Summary table of results (continued)
Category Question Scales Frequency
Percentage
(%)
Impact on career
and
entrepreneurial
background
Was there a positive
impact in participating
in the development of
a new product, service
or process
(intrapreneurship)
after the experience?
Yes 14 25.9%
No 40 74.1%
After the experience
how do you feel in
applying the concepts
of entrepreneurship
professionally?
Fully incapable 1 1.9%
Little capable 31 57.4%
Indifferent - -
Capable 4 7.4%
Fully capable 18 33.3%
The experiential
project impacted
positively my ability
to relate the learning
acquired to the
entrepreneurial reality.
Strongly disagree - -
Disagree - -
Indifferent 2 3.7%
Agree 22 40.7%
Strongly agree 30 55.6%
Importance of the
experiential project on
my entrepreneurial
formation.
Completely
unimportant 1 1.9%
Minor - -
Indifferent 10 18.5%
Important 19 35.2%
Extremely
important 24 44.4%
Importance of the
experiential project on
my professional
formation.
Completely
unimportant 1 1.9%
Minor - -
Indifferent 7 13%
Important 21 38.9%
Extremely
important 25 46.3%
Evaluation of
the EL
methodology
How do you evaluate
the experiential
methodology for
entrepreneurship
learning?
Very bad - -
Bad - -
Indifferent 7 13%
Good 28 51.9%
Very good 19 35.2%
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