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Entrepreneurship education continues to grow and develop worldwide. This article seeks to expand knowledge and understanding of educational practice in entrepreneurship by focusing on serious games, specifically computer simulations which model entrepreneurship. This paper begins by reviewing the entrepreneurship education literature to consider the role of simulations, explores the nature of serious games, and assesses the role of such games in simulating entrepreneurial learning. This research uses systematic literature review techniques to collect data on serious games, analyzes these games and provides five detailed case studies on the games. The paper concludes with a discussion of what serious games currently simulate in entrepreneurial learning, and directions for future research.
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Research Article
Simulations in
Education: Serious
Games and Learning
Through Play
Joe Fox
, Luke Pittaway
and Ikenna Uzuegbunam
Entrepreneurship education continues to grow and develop worldwide. This article
seeks to expand knowledge and understanding of educational practice in entrepre-
neurship by focusing on serious games, specifically computer simulations which
model entrepreneurship. This paper begins by reviewing the entrepreneurship edu-
cation literature to consider the role of simulations, explores the nature of serious
games, and assesses the role of such games in simulating entrepreneurial learning.
This research uses systematic literature review techniques to collect data on serious
games, analyzes these games and provides five detailed case studies on the games.
The paper concludes with a discussion of what serious games currently simulate in
entrepreneurial learning, and directions for future research.
serious games, simulations, education, learning
Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy
2018, Vol. 1(1) 61–89
!The Author(s) 2018
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2515127417737285
College of Business, Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA
Corresponding Author:
Joe Fox, Entrepreneurship and Instructional Technology, College of Business, Ohio University, Athens,
OH 45701, USA.
The rapid pace of growth in entrepreneurship education has been well docu-
mented (Fayolle, Verzat, & Wapshott, 2016; Katz, 2003; Pittaway & Cope,
From a subject matter focused principally on small business manage-
ment in the United States, the field has grown to cover many contexts and most
countries. In addition, the scope of entrepreneurship education has broadened,
rapidly spreading across disciplines in the university setting and permeating
different levels within educational systems (Morris, Kuratko, & Cornwell,
2013; Neck & Greene, 2011). Despite this landscape of increasing demand and
diversification, the intellectual foundations of educational practice in the field
remain underdeveloped (Loi, Castriotta, & Chiara Di Guardo, 2016; Pittaway &
Cope, 2007b). There is a void between current theoretical understanding of the
entrepreneurship process as it applies to opportunity recognition, evaluation,
and exploitation, and its simulation
in educational practice.
Prior reviews of the literature suggest that the field of entrepreneurship educa-
tion is becoming increasingly fragmented, where little is known and incorpo-
rated about actual practices and their veracity (Ge & Peng, 2012; Gorman,
Hanlon, & King, 1997; Naia, Rui, Januario, & Trigo, 2014; Pittaway & Cope,
2007b). Fayolle (2013) argues that what is known in the entrepreneurship
educational environment is often considered to be anecdotal and lacking in
rigor. Concluding a recent special issue in entrepreneurship education, Fayolle
et al. (2016) highlight that entrepreneurship education needs to (a) reflect a
better understanding of the skills and competencies it aims to create; (b) provide
more effective methods for evaluating educational pedagogies; and (c) undertake
more rigorous studies of educational effectiveness.
The purpose of this article is to consider the extent to which current educa-
tional practices in the field of entrepreneurship are consistent with current
understanding of the entrepreneurial process, and associated skills and compe-
tencies. We focus on whether serious games, in the form of computer simula-
tions, are in fact simulating the process of entrepreneurial learning as part of the
practice contributing to the overall advancement of entrepreneurship education.
We evaluate whether serious games used in the context of entrepreneurship
education fulfill the dimensions of fidelity, verification, and validation. While
previous research has proven the perceived effectiveness of serious games of the
players, specifically entrepreneurship simulation games in learning environments
(Kriz & Auchter, 2016), additional research is required to better understand
what the games contain to further education of entrepreneurs.
The article will begin by considering entrepreneurship education and the role
of simulations as part of that ecosystem. Here, we introduce the concept of
serious games and then consider its treatment in the entrepreneurship education
literature, in terms of its role in the educational process. We then consider what
specific skills and competencies games might aim to simulate and relate those
62 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
back to entrepreneurial learning. Then, we review this method of learning by
exploring existing practices and highlighting current games in the market.
Finally, we undertake a rigorous evaluation of a sample of these games through
five case studies, with the view to highlight potential avenues for future improve-
ments. By utilizing a well-established theoretical framework in our analysis of
serious games in the entrepreneurship context, our work develops better under-
standing of the current gaming landscape in entrepreneurship education. Thus,
the article concludes by highlighting the potential gaps in the current gaming
landscape, the reasons for the gaps, and recommendations for educational
practice and theory.
Computer Simulations and Serious Games in
Entrepreneurship Education
Entrepreneurship education has a complicated pedagogic history that includes
many innovations and much variety in teaching methods (Pittaway & Cope,
2007b). Methods reviewed in the literature have varied extensively, have generally
been descriptive, and have lacked rigorous evaluation of effectiveness (Fayolle
et al., 2016). In this literature, scholars have described the following methods:
action learning (Leitch & Harrison, 1999), new venture role plays (Clouse, 1990;
Kelmar, 1992), serious games (Hindle, 2002; Low, Venkataraman, & Srivatsan,
1994), the development of actual ventures (Haines, 1988), skills-based courses
(Ulijn, Duill, & Robertson, 2004), video role plays (Robertson & Collins,
2003), experiential learning (Daly, 2001; Sexton & Upton, 1987), and mentoring
(Stewart & Knowles, 2003) among many others. Specifically, simulations in entre-
preneurship education come in a number of forms depending on their purpose for
existence, and the most popular appear to be role-playing simulations and
computer simulations. Deviating from a pure computer simulation are in-class
role plays, serious games mediated by technology, and experiential learning where
students create and run ‘‘real’’ ventures in the classroom.
In this article, we are interested in serious games within the context of
educational practice in entrepreneurship. These can be defined as computer-
based learning simulations that engage players in realistic activities designed
to increase knowledge, improve skills, and enable positive learning outcomes
(Prensky, 2001). While such simulations are not always ‘‘games’’ per se, the main
focus is the use of a digital game-based learning environment to support ‘‘ser-
ious’’ outcomes. Despite having an entertainment component, these simulations
are designed to promote learning, primarily by leveraging a narrative or
story centered in an entrepreneurial setting. Serious games also differ from enter-
tainment games as they focus on problem-solving tasks and incorporate the
imperfect nature of interactions with the real world (Susi, Johannesson, &
Backlund, 2007), an especially useful concept in approaching entrepreneurial
opportunities. Previous empirical research on the use of serious games in
Fox et al. 63
entrepreneurship education suggests that students perceive simulation gameplay
as a useful education exercise that extends their knowledge about entrepreneur-
ial decision variables (Huebscher & Lendner, 2010). Serious games have some
definable characteristics as highlighted by Prensky (2001), which includes fun,
play, rules, goals, interactivity, outcomes or feedback, win states, conflict, and
problem solving. Games also require a narrative and adapt as a player moves
through the game.
When using serious gaming to simulate entrepreneurship, important discip-
linary questions arise, especially when considering Fayolle et al.’s (2016) first
didactic challenge. How do we define entrepreneurship and what is being simu-
lated? What is the correct level of complexity and uncertainty? And, within what
problems and sequence? How does the structure of the simulation map against
practical or scientific knowledge of the subject matter of entrepreneurship? What
implicit assumptions bind the learning process? The simulation and gaming
literature provides a theoretical framework for anchoring these considerations.
This framework suggests that serious games are often evaluated using three
criteria: fidelity, verification, and validity (Feinstein & Cannon, 2002).
Fidelity refers to the amount of realism in a simulation (Pellegrino & Scott,
2004). Though some amount of fidelity is essential in serious games, prior
research suggests that excessive fidelity can be problematic (Billhardt, 2004).
In entrepreneurship simulations, for example, Hindle (2002, p. 238) argues
that students need ‘‘adequate suspension of disbelief.’’ That is, students need
credible scenarios that will provide enough challenge, without overwhelming the
player with detail, since actions need to be executed within an appropriate time-
frame (Hindle, 2002).
Creating the right blend of fidelity ensures that learners enjoy the game and
remain engaged (Maguire, Van Lent, Prensky, & Tarr, 2003). Relaxing the fidel-
ity of a game does not negatively impact learning outcomes, and doing so can
enhance fun and engagement (Vogel et al., 2006). Being too realistic, therefore, is
not necessarily the aim of a serious game, for example, Low et al. (1994) argue
that, ‘‘the ideal game will be rich enough to capture critical aspects of the entre-
preneurial process, but sufficiently simple to minimize the danger of confounding
factors’’ (p. 384). This statement highlights the important opportunity for entre-
preneurship simulations as they can assist learners in avoiding some of the most
painful life lessons one might encounter launching a real company.
Verification focuses on ensuring whether the simulation is working, and model-
ing the scenario and variables as intended. Verification ensures technical
64 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
reliability, and in the gaming context, it is often focused on testing and retesting,
as well as, upgrades, updates, and patches. Prior research in entrepreneurship
education has found technical reliability to be essential for effective student
engagement within the classroom setting (Hindle, 2002). Technical reliability
can be impeded or enhanced by the trainer. Thus, verification also includes
factors, such as, intuitiveness of the game interface and the prior training of
the trainer (Low et al., 1994).
As research is sparse on the technical aspects of such games, it is important to
inject the idea of uncertainty into this discussion as it can be a difficult concept to
model. As McMullen and Shepherd (2006) note, actions taken by entrepreneurs
involving innovative new ideas are inherently uncertain, often creating situations
with unknown outcomes. This appears to confound some of the ideas in both
verification and validation, yet reconciliation is possible upon relaxing certain
aspects of each. Simulations should provide players with the tools they need to
create uncertainty, yet also the same power to react to uncertainty caused by the
game purposefully or through other circumstances.
Validation is the third criteria used in assessing serious games. It aims to ensure
that the simulation is designed to correctly model the processes that exist in reality
(Pegden, Sadowski, & Shannon, 1995). In this criterion, there are many issues in
entrepreneurship education. First, what definition of entrepreneurship is applied?
Entrepreneurship might be small business management, venture creation, or ven-
ture growth (Carland, Hoy, Boulton, & Carland, 1984; Shane & Venkataraman,
2000). It could be opportunity recognition or creation (Shepherd, 2015; Thrane,
Blenker, Korsgaard, & Neergaard, 2016) or innovation (Drucker, 2002;
Schumpeter, 1934), as well as, a number of other alternatives (Gartner &
Vesper, 1994). Shane and Venkataraman (2000) note that entrepreneurship
does not require creation of new organizations, and it is the role of innovation
which sets this apart from small business management (Carland et al., 1984).
Fayolle et al. (2016) emphasize that the nature of the ‘‘reality’’ the simulation
seeks to emulate has much scope for variation due to the underlying didactic
challenges. This is because of the need to account for the constraint of simulat-
ing reality where the outcomes are unknown due to innovative actions under-
taken by entrepreneurs (see McMullen & Shepherd, 2006). Thus, it appears that
the preponderance of uncertainty in the reality of entrepreneurship will compli-
cate the idea of creating a valid simulation. Nevertheless, it is possible to inject
uncertain situations, aligned with the current context a user is focused on,
through user controls and decisions. In doing so, the need to adequately
model the reality of uncertainty in entrepreneurship should be balanced with
the need to measure skills and competences, which is often enhanced by a more
standardized, set narrative.
Fox et al. 65
Prior research in entrepreneurship education has focused on games designed
to enhance deal making, negotiation skills, networking, and ethics. In doing so,
entrepreneurship is seen ‘‘as a tournament between competing entrepreneurs’’
(Low et al., 1994, p. 386) and has focused on decision-making simulating ‘‘a
managerial in-basket exercise’’ (Hindle, 2002, p. 237). Evidently, within the
existing gaming landscape, the skills and competencies simulated could vary,
the entrepreneurial context might vary, as might the underpinning conceptual-
ization of entrepreneurship itself (Pittaway & Cope, 2007b). For the purposes of
this research, we form these key questions and criteria into a review framework
(see Table 1).
The field research used the review criteria in Table 1 to consider contempor-
ary examples of serious games and help attend to Fayolle et al.’s (2016) first
didactic challenge. Before reporting this research, however, we must also address
Fayolle et al.’s (2016) second and third didactic challenges. We address the
second by considering current research about how entrepreneurs learn and use
this to establish a framework for considering the serious games reviewed.
Finally, we address the third by conducting a rigorous review of existing edu-
cational practices (i.e., serious games currently in the market), and our research
findings are reported in the final part of the article.
Table 1. Effective Gaming Design Review Criteria.
Criteria Description Relevant factors for entrepreneurship
Fidelity Amount of realism
present in the game
Level of reality present in the game. Is this game
simulating a facet of the entrepreneurial process?
Balance of reality and challenge appropriateness for
target learner. Can learners understand the
boundaries enough to perceive inherent
Fun and potential for engagement
Verification Quality of the game’s
technical design
Technical reliability, absence of technical or user
Interface design, intuitiveness, and usability
Level of instructor training and involvement for
Validation Game’s coherence and
alignment with the
simulated reality
Existence of an underlying narrative. Does the lear-
ner impact this narrative?
Underlying theory guiding the narrative.
Competence and skills focus of the game design.
What should entrepreneurs get out of playing a
Note. Adapted from Feinstein and Cannon, 2002.
66 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
Entrepreneurial Learning Review Framework
Research on entrepreneurial learning (and the accompanying technology) has
advanced considerably, since Low et al. (1994) and Hindle (2002) first con-
sidered serious games in entrepreneurship education. We contend that current
research in entrepreneurial learning provides a valid framework through which
to evaluate the current gaming landscape. Games, as a pedagogic approach,
seem to align well with the socioconstructivist educational paradigm (Gibb,
1987, 2002). They respect the learner’s need for self-determination (Ryan &
Deci, 2000), apply the concept of ‘‘flow’’ to ensure pleasure and engagement
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), can support cooperative learning (Hattie, 2009), and
provide timely feedback to the learner. An entrepreneurial learning framework
that is likewise based on similar philosophies about learning, therefore, seems a
good basis on which to evaluate existing practice.
Entrepreneurial learning has been recently reviewed as a subject (Pittaway &
Thorpe, 2012; Wang & Chugh, 2014). There are many contributing concepts
that provide this study with a framework to review the practice of serious games
in entrepreneurship education. As these are reviewed elsewhere, we introduce
them briefly to illustrate how they are used within the context of the current
study (Harrison & Leitch, 2005, 2008; Jones, Macpherson, & Thorpe, 2010).
Active Learning or Learning by Doing
Active learning or learning by doing is widely perceived to be a key way in which
entrepreneurs develop understanding, learning as they go while working on the
job (Gartner, 1988; Jones, Macpherson, & Woollard, 2008; Watts, Cope, &
Hulme, 1998). In serious gaming, Low et al. (1994) point out, ‘‘in a field
where much learning occurs through doing, games and simulations that provide
realistic entrepreneurial experiences have the potential to be of enormous
benefit’’ (p. 384). Games, by definition, are experiential and engage players in
interaction, problem-solving, choices, and narratives. As such, they can be
considered to model learning-by-doing in the entrepreneurial domain. It must
be noted, however, that they are unlikely to simulate all aspects of the experi-
ence. For instance, prior research suggests that they would be expected to leave
out emotional, financial, and social exposure, which are known to heighten an
entrepreneur’s learning engagement (Pittaway & Thorpe, 2012).
Learning-by-doing is considered to lead to the acquisition of a ‘‘stock of
experience’’ (Cope, 2005). Cope (2005), for example, details the sequence and
learning processes that occur upon entrepreneur’s involvement in critical events
or episodes (Cope, 2005). This also helps contribute to one’s entrepreneurial
identity through personal and social emergence (Rae, 2005). Learning processes
can also occur in nonlinear patterns and can vary based on the individual
moving through the game. Stock of experience and ‘‘entrepreneurial
Fox et al. 67
preparedness’’ are placeholders for modification of existing thoughts and stra-
tegies and can also represent new cognitive processes that arise as outcomes of
learning (Chen, Yao, & Kotha, 2009; Cope, 2011; Reuber & Fischer, 1993;
Smilor, 1997). Cope (2005) links this stock of knowledge to ‘‘entrepreneurial
preparedness’’ (Politis, 2005; Smilor, 1997). The relationship establishes that
prior experiences can have an impact on individual’s preparedness to take entre-
preneurial actions. Within the gaming context, this relationship demonstrates
that repetitive practice through well-designed serious games could help prepare
players for future entrepreneurial acts. It also illustrates that game designers
need to be cognizant of the existing prior experience of players. A game designed
for undergraduate students may not, for example, have enough fidelity for more
experienced entrepreneurs, thus highlighting the importance of the intended
Experience alone though has been recognized as insufficient (Cope & Watts,
2000). Other forms of learning have been shown to play an important role in
the entrepreneurial learning process. These forms include: reflective learning
(Cope, 2005); situated learning (Hamilton, 2004), learning through crises
events (Cope, 2011), and vicarious learning (Baron & Henry, 2010; Holcomb,
Ireland, Holmes, & Hitt, 2009). Each form has important ramifications for
assessing serious games in the subject.
Reflective Learning
Reflective learning, for example, has been shown to be important in the consoli-
dation of outcomes from experiences and it comes in a number of different
forms. Games, if well designed, should encourage reflection. Decisions and
choices are made, the narrative progresses, and leads to performance outcomes
including win states. Decision stages are also likely to be more rapid from how
they might occur in reality and so feedback on outcomes is often instantaneous.
How well designed the links are between a game’s goals, outcomes, and feedback
will clearly impact on the value of the reflective outcomes for the learner. The
immediacy of feedback in games also offers some limitations for reflective prac-
tice. Too much immediacy may not allow space for ‘‘deeper’’ reflective learning
that often requires space away from the action (Cope, 2011; Tseng, 2013).
Situated Learning
Situated learning likewise offers considerations for game designers in entrepre-
neurship education. It is broadly recognized that learning in the entrepreneurial
context is an individual, team, and organizational phenomenon (karatas¸ -O
2011; Taylor & Thorpe, 2004). Entrepreneurs learn from other stakeholders and
family members (Cruz, Howorth, & Hamilton, 2012; Hamilton, 2004).
Entrepreneurial processes are often team based and learning as a venture
68 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
grows is considered an organizational phenomenon (Jones & Macpherson,
2006). While players of the game have individual learning experiences that
have value, a game may fail to simulate entrepreneurial learning if it does not
engage the computer, nonplayable characters, and other players fully into the
game in order to build effective interactivity. Interaction with family, stake-
holders in the venture process, and competitors in the market place seem like
essential components of effective game design (Low et al., 1994). The presence of
unforeseen events, market disruptions, and institutional changes (such as
changes in government policy) might also be important aspects of the situated
nature of a game. Vicarious learning offers similar considerations (Holcomb
et al., 2009). For example, to what extent does the game provide access to
‘‘real life’’ responses to similar problems and challenges and to what extent is
engagement individual or team-based? Each of these items will impact the fidel-
ity of the game. The opportunity to engage in vicarious or symbolic learning
(through others’ experiences) might further enhance the potential outcomes for
the learner (Baron & Henry, 2010).
Learning From Crises
Learning through crises events is another identifiable aspect of the entrepreneur-
ial learning literature (Cope, 2011; Politis & Gabrielsson, 2009; Shepherd, 2003).
Here, it has been noted that critical episodes and failure events can have heigh-
tened learning outcomes when compared with regular operational activities
(Shepherd, 2003). A focus on such events has also led researchers to consider
more deeply the emotional aspects of learning within the entrepreneurial context
(Cardon, Foo, Shepherd, & Wiklund, 2012; Cardon, Wincent, Singh, &
Drnovsek, 2009). Passion, enthusiasm, and emotional engagement with the sub-
ject are increasingly viewed to be both enablers and inhibitors in the learning
process (Shepherd & Kuratko, 2009; Ucbasaran, Shepherd, Lockett, & Lyon,
2013). These aspects of the field highlight further considerations for evaluating
serious games. To what extent do game designs build in unforeseen crises and
events? Many in the entrepreneurial ecosystem contend that one of the most
effective ways to learn how to be an entrepreneur is through failure (Pittaway &
Cope, 2007b) and one of the most common adages in practice is ‘‘fail fast’’ or
even ‘‘fail fast, fail often, and cheaply.’’ Game designs offer the potential to
allow learners to fail and do so in a controlled way limiting downside risk.
Constant practice through game scenarios can also help learners prepare for
such challenging episodes. So, an obvious criterion to consider is how current
game designs simulate and engage the learner in failure, mistakes, and crises,
recognizing that there is a continuum between smaller mistakes and catastrophic
failure (Mellahi & Wilkinson, 2004). Failure in entrepreneurial contexts brings
emotional consequences that are seen to heighten learning, and a review of the
gaming landscape must also consider the extent to which games engage learners
Fox et al. 69
in emotional aspects of learning. Here, games, if well designed, should enhance
engagement through fun and play. This aspect of design it contended should
heighten learners’ passion and enthusiasm and in doing so may impact the qual-
ity of learning outcomes. As noted though, it is unlikely that more extreme
emotional aspects (such as, emotional exposure) are likely to be simulated
through serious games (Pittaway & Cope, 2007a; Pittaway, Gazzard, Shore, &
Williamson, 2015).
For the purposes of this research, we applied this entrepreneurial learning
framework (see Table 2) to review existing serious games in entrepreneurship
education. The review also used criteria from the gaming literature (fidelity,
verification, and validation) to further consider the educational value of
games. In doing so, we have addressed Fayolle et al.’s (2016) second didactic
challenge and have presented an effective method for evaluating practices. Next,
we address the third didactic challenge by undertaking a rigorous analysis of
serious games in entrepreneurship education. Before introducing the results of
this analysis, we explain our methodology.
The research method applied elements of a systematic literature review (SLR),
case study research, and playing serious games. We reviewed the gaming land-
scape using these elements of the SLR method to ensure transparency through-
out the process, used initial reviews to identify five case studies, and played the
five games in detail. During each step of the process, the conceptual review
criteria developed was applied to assess the games being evaluated.
Table 2. Entrepreneurial Learning Review Criteria.
Type of learning Relevant features in game environments
Active learning Engaging learning by doing, by making decisions, solving problems,
acting ‘‘as if’’ and implementing choices within the game context.
Extent to which the game draws on and adds to the learner’s existing
stock of experience.
Reflective learning Level of reflective practice built into the game and the nature and
forms of reflection encouraged.
Situated learning Whether the game places learners within situational contexts via
interaction with nonplayable characters, the computer, and other
Vicarious learning Level and involvement of others in the learning process including
peers, mentors, and instructors.
Affective learning Evidence of emotional engagement with the game, likely level of
absorption, emotional simulation, and other emotional outcomes.
70 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
SLR methods have been developed in social science and management inquiry to
develop thematic reviews of particular subjects (Denyer & Neely, 2004;
Tranfield, Denyer, Marcos, & Burr, 2004). The emphasis in SLRs has been to
develop reviews that enable transparent, evidence-based evaluations of a field
that both abstract and synthesize a subject (Thorpe, Holt, Macpherson, &
Pittaway, 2005). The method was applied in this research to enable the system-
atic collection of serious games in entrepreneurship education. The steps that the
review conducted are as follows:
1. Search strings—a number of key words and search strings were developed
and tested to undertake searches. Key words such as ‘‘game,’’ ‘‘simulation,’’
‘‘small business,’’ ‘‘new venture,’’ and ‘‘entrepreneur’’ were identified and
constructed into common search strings.
2. Search strings were used in common search engines (e.g., Google) to seek out
an initial sample of serious games. Common search engines were preferred to
literature databases (e.g., Business Source Complete) due to the focus of the
search on games rather than literature.
3. During initial searches for games, a large number of results were identified.
These were reviewed by filtering in only web pages that had been updated in
the last year (2016). This approach was used as a means to uncover ‘‘active’’
products. Forty-one serious games were identified during this stage and these
are reported in Appendix 1.
4. Web pages for each game were reviewed in detail. As is common for SLRs,
inclusion and exclusion criteria (Pittaway, Holt, & Broad, 2014) were applied
to assess the relevance of the games in entrepreneurship education. Criteria
included aspects such as, topical fit, technical efficacy, misleading or false
advertising, and obsolescence (i.e., games were not being sold or updated).
At this stage, 17 of the games were excluded from the sample.
5. Of the 23 remaining games, 15 were excluded for definitional or scoping
reasons. They did not meet our definition as highlighted earlier in the article.
In most cases, these were true games focused on entertainment and were not
serious games focused on education. Other cases included the scope of what
the game facilitated—if the game’s scope included only a very narrow skill or
process useful to entrepreneurs, it was excluded as well. At this stage, one
game was excluded due to its lack of availability to the researchers.
6. The remaining eight games were analyzed more deeply using the review
criteria established and five of these were played in depth for additional ana-
lysis based on access.
Following the use of an SLR-like method to select the games for review, the
research conducted case studies. These case studies are assisted by ‘‘gaming play-
ing’’ as a method of data analysis. Case studies are a recognized and accepted
method in management research (Yin, 2014). Mayer, Bekebrede, et al. (2014)
Fox et al. 71
suggest that this methodology is one of many beneficial ways to explore the
functionality and purpose of serious games. In this study, the serious game
reviewed represents the ‘‘case,’’ and there are five such cases evaluated. The
case in this research is the ‘‘product’’ itself rather than a particular intervention
using the game (Baxter & Jack, 2008). Evidence on cases was collected by
review of secondary information, analysis of product design, and through
active engagement (play) with the products; therefore, multiple sources of evi-
dence were applied to our evaluation (Eisenhardt, 1989). We undertook a
purposeful sampling method as outlined by applying the SLR method to
our selection process (Gerring, 2005). These case studies represent illustrations
of the games available and are thus illustrative cases (Stacks, 2013). Our data
analysis incorporated using the review criteria established to evaluate games,
involved reviews and assessments of game design, and direct interaction with
the games through game playing. Aarseth (2003) suggests that failing to play
games under analysis leaves the researcher at risk for misunderstanding various
components and processes. Participating in games allows for mapping of the
various rules, win-states, and other critical mechanics that makeup a game
(Aarseth, 2003).
While this research uses a method common in instructional technology, there
are some limitations to be considered. Our cases formed around the ‘‘product’’
rather than around an ‘‘instructional intervention using the product.’’ We exam-
ined a large number of serious games, looked in detail at eight games, and
provided five cases studies but we did not observe how the game was used in
the classroom by an instructor. It is possible that some variations in our assess-
ment could be influenced by this mode of investigation, in particular, vicarious
and affective learning assessment may have been influenced. Future researchers
of this subject could expand our work by observing instructional practices and
technologies in the context of the classroom experience. From our literature
review work, however, it is recommended that such work uses multiple rather
than single case studies. In this study, our method of interrater reliability is
somewhat limited. The lead researcher undertook the SLR, conducted the
review using the method as outlined, and played the case study games. Given
the nature of the process, and its labor-intensive nature (i.e., game playing), the
use of multiple researchers and the creation of interrater reliability in the assess-
ment process was not deemed feasible. Instead the researchers engaged the
supporting researcher in ‘‘checks and balances.’’ This involved a step by step
reporting and reviewing procedure designed to ensure transparency and validity
of the data collection and analysis process. The nature of the initial search pro-
cess also leaves the potential that games are left out of the evaluation set, as
they are not discovered. Despite these limitations, we contend that the research
carried out was rigorously conducted and presents the most comprehensive
understanding of serious games in entrepreneurship education currently
72 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
Next, we introduce each of the five cases and explain the general results of the
review. Then, we discuss serious games in entrepreneurship education and high-
light findings from both the case studies and the wider sample. Finally, the
conclusions are highlighted.
Case Studies
Interpretive Solutions offers a well-known and widely used set of entrepreneur-
ship simulations focused on retail entrepreneurship. Key learning areas include
strategy, analysis, marketing, accounting, and other facets of operating a small
business. This round-based simulation allows faculty to cover important topics
at the end of each round students play. Players take the role of founder and at
the end of the game, the team with the highest net income wins.
GoVenture hosts two serious games focused on entrepreneurs: GoVenture
World and GoVenture Entrepreneur. GoVenture World allows players to make
entrepreneurial decisions about a variety of topics when starting a business and
players operate that business in an environment where other companies are
controlled by other players in real time. Topics covered include business man-
agement, strategy, planning, communication, marketing, and more. Players take
the role of a founder; however, they can also be investors. The game is a free,
open-ended, massive multiplayer online role playing game. GoVenture
Entrepreneur allows players to make turn-based decisions in managing a retail
store. Topics covered include strategy, planning, marketing, as well as some of
the personal choices which entrepreneurs must make. Players take the role of a
founder and there is a fee charged per student for playing the game.
SimVenture Classic represents a business simulation that incorporates startup
components as part of gameplay. Players take the role of a manager and play
against computer competition to make tactical decisions in starting a business.
This game can also be loaded with custom scenarios built by instructors to better
fit course content.
Entrepreneurship Simulation: The Startup Game is a mixed computer-based
and real-life game designed to assist students in understanding the startup
process from a variety of limited roles. Players can take the role of founder,
financier, or employee as they attempt to get their business off the ground.
Players take investments from investor players, hire employee players, and com-
pete with other founders and their companies.
General Results
The results of the initial detailed review of the eight games are highlighted in
Table 3. The games reviewed had a range of prices, free to $45 per seat for
academic users. Some simulations charged significantly more for corporate
users. Most were not free and payment models tended toward short-term
Fox et al. 73
Table 3. Serious Games Review Results.
Simulation: The
Startup Game SimVenture HipsterCEO
Fidelity Low Low Low Moderate Low Low Low Low
Verification High Moderate High Unknown High Low High Moderate
Validation Moderate Low Moderate Moderate Moderate Low Moderate Moderate
Active learning x x x x x x x x
Situated learning x x x x x x x
Vicarious learning x x
Affective learning x x
Reflective learning x x x x x x
Learning via crisis x
Note.Low, Moderate, and High ratings refer to evaluator opinion for each game in that category related to definitions. An ‘‘x’’ represents the evaluators opinion
on whether the example was encountered in the game, while blank cells indicate no encounter. The first five games were played.
licensing centered on a semester’s use for undergraduate students. Games
designed for the undergraduate marketplace were focused on embedding the
game within a course, as an aspect designed to assist overall course delivery as
many of the publishers include a variety of supporting resources to assist the
learner. One game that was in beta testing was free with the intention to use a
similar model following the testing period. Three of the simulations evaluated
were single player games only; the remaining games constructed multiple player
games designed to allow for player versus player competition. Roles within
games varied, some games allowed for the selection of multiple roles but most
placed the player in the role of ‘‘founder,’’ and in some games, this was the only
role available. Similarly, players could rarely switch roles once the game had
started. Only one of the games allowed the role of ‘‘venture capitalist,’’ one
allowed the role of ‘‘employee,’’ one allowed ‘‘angel investor,’’ and two allowed
for ‘‘other investors,’’ which typically meant a loan officer of a bank or friend/
family member with wealth.
Games generally did not include other stakeholders, such as, family members
in the roles a player can play. Games varied considerably regarding the ‘‘reality’’
being simulated and the context of the simulation. A common context was
‘‘retail entrepreneur’’ (e.g., clothing goods store, sporting goods store, or seller
of physical goods) while ‘‘software entrepreneur’’ also featured in two products.
Most products tended toward simulating small business management while there
were venture growth aspects to the software games. No games focused directly
on other contexts such as hyper growth, failure and liquidation, nondisclosure
processes for venture finance, IPO, and trade sales, although there may have
been scattered references to such concepts in material supporting such games.
So, games tend only to simulate new venture creation and small business man-
agement, and in most cases, the venture creation process was superficial in the
sense that a small fraction of the total time spent playing was dedicated to this
task and more time directed to financial decisions for an operating small
Temporal controls were implemented in the form of round-based play in four
games. The remaining game was open-ended with no theoretical end. A majority
of the games include feedback and reflection periods where the game offers
feedback to help hone in on better decision-making based on the variables
users have control over. Every game in the sample includes trial and error
experimentation and attempt to model learning by doing (Gartner, 1988;
Watts et al., 1998). They do this by modeling actual decisions a player would
have to take when starting or managing a venture. Only two games had any
sense of ‘‘crises’’ and so learning through mistakes, errors, and failures seemed
to be very lightly modeled (Cope, 2011; Politis & Gabrielsson, 2009). Crises were
sometimes built-in, one-time events occurring in a simulated period. An example
of a crisis scenario would be an accusation of theft by current employees. Other
crises were a function of temporal controls of the game, like the company burn
Fox et al. 75
rate creating dire conditions for business operations (Shepherd, 2003).
Emotional components of learning, as expected, were not simulated by the
games outside of short descriptions of events which might residually impact a
founder’s emotions. Each of the games included financial decision-making but
most did not model financial exposure as might be experienced by an entrepre-
neur. Other emotional components, such as social and emotional exposure, were
essentially absent from the games. Only one game included situations at ‘‘home’’
that spilled over into the player’s decision-making.
Generally, catastrophic failure was modeled poorly (Shepherd, 2003). The
ability of the business to fail completely was almost absent and only in two
games could the player reach this state. Other games allowed the business to
continue operation and, in some cases, losing money into infinity. This weakness
occurs in the artificial framework created in the games related to financing where
the allowable boundary conditions make it impossible to fail. Incremental and
microscopic mistakes could occur allowing the player to learn and reflect but this
did not add up to the critical failure of the venture and closure with its various
ramifications (Cope, 2011; Politis & Gabrielsson, 2009). It is likely that failure
prevention is closely linked to the disallowance of uncertainty to creep into game
elements. Instead of purely uncertain situations, many of the games are coaxing
players to practice their behavior under situations of information asymmetry.
While there exists an element of perceived uncertainty from that of the player,
outcomes are still somewhat fixed to help ensure learning objectives are met.
Games in general provide valuable learning by doing tools and are effective ways
that educators can enhance experiential learning in and outside of the classroom
(Low et al., 1994). In most cases, the games simulate decision, choice, and action
frameworks well, and have a good level of fidelity for the chosen audience.
Learners gain access to appropriate processes and have an opportunity
to have fun and play ‘‘as if’’ they were the founder of a business. At present,
the reviewed games have a very narrow definition of the ‘‘reality’’ they seek to
simulate. The games are mainly focused on small business management as their
underlying definition of entrepreneurship and ignore other conceptualizations.
Venture creation processes are often included but were found to be superficial,
and innovation in business models is not possible. Most players were boxed in to
decisions open to a small business owner and were not able to provide more
innovative responses because they were forced into pursuing a win state dictated
by an underlying small business management framework. This relegates players
to seeking optimization functions between various variables within the game.
Meanwhile, many other important venture constructs are ignored, for example,
opportunity recognition, rapid venture growth, and venture investment
76 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
processes. While these concepts could be introduced through instructor
resources, they were not incorporated into most simulations due to the difficulty
to simulate such scenarios.
Reflection was encouraged in the majority of the games (Cope, 2005), both by
the setup of round-based decisions and instructor reactions to player decisions.
It is important for learners in games to make different decisions with the same
sets of criteria that were available in the previous round and most of the games
allowed for this. Some of the games did not include time for reflection and feed-
back loops were not always setup to help coach players through more optimal
decisions. When a game leaves this out, it does not encourage ‘‘self-monitoring’’
as described in the research (Tseng, 2013). Reflection though was somewhat
superficial in nature. Most reflective learning was focused on immediate changes
to decisions and choices in the search for the optimal response to presupposed
outcomes. Such reflection, while valuable in the context of these games, does not
mirror the critical reflection described by Cope (2005, 2011). Future research
may investigate the deeper role of the instructor in enhancing such reflection, as
well as additional features included in each game to encourage noninstructor
mandated reflection.
Situated learning and vicarious learning were simulated in part in these games
(karatas¸ -O
¨zkan, 2011; Taylor & Thorpe, 2004). In most cases, however, the
interactivity between players, the computer, nonplayable characters, and other
players was limited and not immersive enough to enhance learning in a deeper
way. Most simulations did not have cofounder pairs with more experienced
players, did not allow players to switch roles and play from different positions
in the relationship (e.g., the investor), and decision making in some of the games
lacked transparency depriving players of a better view of cause and effect when
engaging in interaction. Some games did encourage team-based learning but
most were individual learning based that happened to occur in a space with
teams being controlled by other players, depriving learners of the ability to
learn vicariously from their peers. An exception to this was the single mixed
simulation which took place in both the classroom and virtually—students were
required to interact to proceed and had to react based on choices of other
players. Within the games, some important situated roles were simulated, such
as, employees, investors, customers, and suppliers. There was some variation but
very few examples of the impact of wider stakeholders, such as, family members,
mentors, and cofounders. These were also rarely played by other players in
the games and tended to be facilitated by nonplayable characters. Likewise,
the simulation of exogenous factors, for example, unexpected and disruptive
changes in the market or changes in government policy, was rarely included.
A focus on win states, as required by normal gaming design, does present
unintended consequences for learning from failure (Cope, 2011; Politis &
Gabrielsson, 2009; Shepherd, 2003). Only in two of the simulations was failure
Fox et al. 77
a normal experience. In most of the games, failure could be implied by profit
declines or money lost, but absolute and catastrophic company losses were not
allowed. This aspect is a major deficiency in the fidelity of most of the games
reviewed. Failure is a hallmark of risk and a critical component of the entrepre-
neurial learning context (Cope, 2011) for it not to be included risks setting
unrealistic expectations for players that might have negative implications and
lead to overconfidence (Giacomin, Janssen, & Shinnar, 2016). Allowing players
to experience failure within safe environments, such as games and simulating the
failure process, is an important recommendation and thus a major contribution
of this study.
Finally, it was evident from this work that many aspects of entrepreneurial
learning are absent from game designs. Lack of chaos, uncertainty, and ambigu-
ity was evident across the sample. No games incorporate rapid decision-making
in chaotic circumstances or required decisions that had multiple unintended
outcomes aside from impact on operational variables. This lack of risk, uncer-
tainty, and ambiguity as experienced in realistic entrepreneurial endeavor
seemed to be another major deficiency of the games reviewed (Politis &
Gabrielsson, 2009). For example, disruptive innovation is recognized as a
major theory underlying entrepreneurship thinking and nowhere in these
games were such disruptions to markets either created by the player or experi-
enced as an outcome of changes in a marketplace (Schumpeter, 1934). While this
could be a limitation for game developers, it also presents an opportunity to
simulate uncertainty through introduction of randomized elements, pathways to
fail, artificially intelligent enhanced nonplayable characters, and even giving
opposing players differing goals to create more irrational environments. Doing
such creates a new challenge for educators in evaluating the effectiveness of such
games, as uncertain outcomes do not always allow for traditional methods
of evaluation to take place. Emotional aspects of learning were also absent.
While one simulation did bring in a spouse as a nonplayable character, there
is very little connection between the family and the venture in these games.
No nonplayable characters engaged in irrational behavior that had negative
implications for the business as often happens in reality, and in general, the
games did not seek to engage the players in a deep enough way to lead to
much emotional engagement.
In this article, we used Fayolle et al.’s (2016) didactic challenges to construct an
analysis of entrepreneurship education practice. The review focused on serious
games used to simulate entrepreneurial learning. We addressed the first didactic
challenge by reviewing best practice in serious game design and by seeking to
explore what entrepreneurial ‘‘reality’’ games were simulating. The second
78 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
didactic challenge was attended to by constructing a detailed systematic method,
using well-established entrepreneurial learning methods, for reviewing serious
games in the entrepreneurship education marketplace. The final didactic chal-
lenge was tackled by undertaking a rigorous assessment of games, using a
detailed review methodology, undertaking five case studies, and through game
playing as a method.
From this work, we can draw some conclusions about the serious gaming
landscape in entrepreneurship education. First, games do provide much value in
the education process. They allow students to engage in experiential learning
that is fun and engaging, and in doing so, they provide an excellent support
mechanism for student education in the subject. Well-designed games seem to be
of particular value in allowing students to learn-by-doing (Low et al., 1994).
Games place students in interactive virtual environments that can be immersive,
and the consequential serious play that follows allows students to test out
decisions and build entrepreneurial preparedness in a safe and risk-free
Games have strong problem-solving aspects, and the outcomes feedback
loops within these problem-solving situations do encourage forms of reflective
learning. They also engage students in narratives providing insights into speci-
fied entrepreneurial contexts (mainly small business management) and do so in a
dynamic way, allowing students to navigate through virtual situations, decisions,
and choices. We, therefore, concur with prior researchers who have concluded
that serious games are an important and significant tool in the entrepreneurship
education toolbox (Hindle, 2002; Kriz & Auchter, 2016; Low et al., 1994).
The gaming landscape also continues to progress with many more products
on the market covering different entrepreneurial contexts and technological
advancements, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence offering many
opportunities for improvements in technological and learning sophistication.
Second, our review of serious games in entrepreneurship education does,
however, highlight many considerations regarding fidelity, verification, and
validation. Current games on the market have a tendency to coalesce around
small business management as their underpinning conceptual framework for the
‘‘reality’’ they simulate. The challenges of fidelity in simulations are widely noted
(Hindle, 2002; Vogel et al., 2006), and thus it is not surprising to note the lack of
realism in most simulations that we evaluated. Mixed serious games, combining
computer simulations and classroom activities, appear to be one outlier which
approaches simulation fidelity differently than most of the other simulations.
Consistent with Hindle (2002), we confirm that most entrepreneurship simula-
tions rely on the assumption that students will relax the fidelity constraint while
gameplay commences. Venture creation processes are treated superficially and
other important contexts, such as, venture growth, finance, liquidation, and
divestment are overlooked. The validity of the gaming landscape in
Fox et al. 79
entrepreneurship as a whole, in terms of its ability to simulate entrepreneurial
endeavor, is thus questionable. While reflective learning does occur within game
design, it is focused on immediate feedback loops to problem-choice decisions,
and so, many games do not involve the learner in deeper critical reflection to any
major degree; although instructor engagement in the classroom may somewhat
alleviate this problem.
Third, gaming is also generally poor at simulating other aspects of entrepre-
neurial learning. In particular, affective learning and vicarious learning did not
have high degrees of fidelity. Likewise, some games are better than others at
offering a range of roles, thus encouraging interactivity and engagement with the
computer, other players, and nonplayable characters. Many of the games pro-
vide very limited situated contexts for the learners. Disruptive events, learning
from mistakes, and the ability to act in disruptive ways are largely ignored in
game design. While this is inherently difficult to simulate, it also possibly
explains the reason many simulations focus on decision variables related to
finances in the management of an entrepreneurial venture. Linear and predict-
able functions based on relationships between finances and decision variables
can be modeled and verified to interact correctly with one another. A departure
from the verification criteria may create nonlinear situations with uncertain
outcomes; thus risking the validity of a simulation as a player pursues an uncom-
mon vector when playing the game. Running a disruptive startup company,
however, typically requires nonlinear decision-making, so there must be some
balance struck to incorporate unknown phenomenon and their impact on deci-
sion-making. Finally, most of the games do not allow catastrophic failure.
A player cannot bankrupt the venture, go out of business, and navigate an
insolvency process. We viewed this deficit as a significant oversight in the
design of existing games.
Our research has implications for entrepreneurship education and research.
For educators, it is clear that serious games do add value to the educational
experience, consistent with previous explorations of learning outcomes (Kriz &
Auchter, 2016). The gaming landscape, however, is becoming more complex and
there are more choices and so educators need to make careful choices and val-
idate their choices before implementing serious games in the classroom. Poor
verification (technical efficacy) is particularly damaging once a game is intro-
duced into the educational context and educators need to spend time to test and
verify a product before they adopt it (Hindle, 2002). Educators also need to
think carefully about the learning outcomes they seek to accomplish and how
well the particular game assists with these learning outcomes. Games tend to
overwhelmingly focus on small business management and the types of skills and
competencies desirable from these games (e.g., venture creation) may not always
be simulated as well as the educator would like. A focus on modeling linear
processes and predictable relationships presents a unique challenge to educators
80 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
as it can create difficulties in pinpointing skills and competencies that are neces-
sary in the entrepreneurial realm. This compounded by the challenges presented
by a strict adherence to effective assessment. While longitudinal research has
shown support for the positive effect of using entrepreneurship simulations in
the classroom (Kriz & Auchter, 2016), it also uncovers that motivations may
remain unchanged or even drop after playing a simulation. This presents an
opportunity for educators, researchers, and game developers to work together
to identify which skills acquired through serious games might also have a posi-
tive impact on motivation.
For researchers, it is quite clear that this subject is underresearched. While
there have been previous studies on entrepreneurial personality, motivation, and
intentions in relation to simulations (Mayer, Kortmann, Wenzler, Wetters, &
Spaans, 2014; Newbery, Lean, & Moizer, 2016), we found very few dated papers
directly addressing this topic. While we cannot rule out omitting papers or fail-
ing to account for papers more broadly focused on business simulations, it is
evident that there are many opportunities for more research. In particular,
multicase study efforts that observe the use of serious games in the classroom
environment seem very promising because they can offer deeper insights into the
different components of the learning experience. Specifically, studies that
observe emotional responses of learners to gaming, review, and expand our
appreciation of the value of new technologies in this context (e.g., virtual reality
and artificial intelligence), and that go deeper into particular learning processes
and forms are likely to produce significant insights for the literature; all appear
to have potential and merit attention.
The research also has implications for game designers. It seems clear that
designers are focused predominantly on a very narrow niche ‘‘small business
management for undergraduate students’’ and so have many more opportunities
open to them than they currently exploit including other customer segments and
other underlying entrepreneurial processes. While it is important for designers to
get the right balance about the fidelity of a game (ease, fun, and engagement
while modeling reality), the research concludes that current games have some
significant deficits in terms of the types of learning they promote. Designers also
may need to fragment games into smaller pieces to accurately address skills
needed for particular scenarios entrepreneurs face, including uncertainty, as
well as, varying skills simulated as they relate to different venture stages and
Ultimately, the contribution of this study is to provide a renewed impetus for
considering the role of serious games in entrepreneurship education. These
games have pragmatic value, and play is a fun way to engage students. While
the current gaming landscape could improve, we conclude that games provide a
safe and risk-free pedagogy for learners to enhance their entrepreneurial pre-
paredness before they launch or join a new venture.
Fox et al. 81
Appendix 1. Serious Games Identified From the SLR
Review Process
Name Status
GoVenture: Entrepreneur Evaluated
GoVenture world Evaluated
Interpretive solutions: Entrepreneur Evaluated
Entrepreneurship simulation: The startup game Evaluated
Entrepreneurship in action: A retail store simulation Filtered
Hot shot business Filtered
Junior achievement club simulation Filtered
Lemonade stand game Filtered
Lemonade stand Filtered
Venture strategy Evaluated
EquitySim Definitional/scope issues
Venture capital game Filtered
Venture capital simulation Filtered
VC game Filtered
Mike’s bikes Definitional/scope issues
Music2go Definitional/scope issues
Threshold entrepreneur business venture simulation Filtered
Innov8 Filtered
Clean start Definitional/scope issues
Solar simulation Definitional/scope issues
Salt simulation Definitional/scope issues
Fishbanks simulation Definitional/scope issues
EIS Definitional/scope issues
SimCEO Definitional/scope issues
HipsterCEO Evaluated
Virtonomics Filtered
Gazillionaire Filtered
Zapitalism Filtered
Profitania Filtered
The startup heroes Filtered
Experiential simulations Definitional/scope issues
Forio venture capital Filtered
82 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publica-
tion of this article.
1. A 2013 Kauffman Foundation report shows a steady increase in entrepreneurship
education programs offered at U.S. colleges and universities. According to the
report, by 2006, U.S. colleges and universities offered 500 formal programs (majors,
minors, and certificates) compared with 250 programs in 1985, and 100 programs in
1975 (
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types of educational activity that are focused on reproducing realistic entrepreneurial
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Author Biographies
Joe Fox is a doctoral student at Ohio University studying Entrepreneurship and
Instructional Technology and is a visiting assistant professor of practice in the
Department of Management at the University of Akron. His research focuses on
entrepreneurial learning through computer simulations, the interactions between
88 Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy 1(1)
entrepreneurs and angel investors, physiological behaviors, as well as artificial
intelligence in entrepreneurship.
Luke Pittaway is the chair of the Management Department and copeland pro-
fessor of Entrepreneurship at Ohio University. He was previously the director of
the Center for Entrepreneurship. Dr. Pittaway’s research focuses on entrepre-
neurship education and learning and he has a range of other interests including:
entrepreneurial behavior; networking; entrepreneurial failure; business growth;
and, corporate venturing.
Ikenna Uzuegbunam is an assistant professor of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and
International Business at the College of Business, Ohio University. His research
focuses on the resource-based and socio-cultural factors that influence innova-
tion and entrepreneurship, in developed and emerging market countries.
Fox et al. 89
... Academia and business are increasingly using BSGs to encourage participants in decision-making, risk management, communication and teamwork (Costin et al., 2018). In addition, BSGs have the advantages of low cost, low risk, and repeatability (Fox et al., 2018), which is not limited to specific locations (Zulfiqar et al., 2021). The possible value of BSGs to education is also a focus of future educational research (Bondar et al., 2020;Zulfiqar et al., 2021). ...
... Entrepreneurs often need to make decisions in the face of an uncertain environment, but BSGs simulate a relatively stable environment with a low degree of uncertainty. And uncertainty is a difficult concept to model (Fox et al., 2018). The intervention of AI makes it possible for the diverse contexts of BSGs, and contextual learning is an important consideration for game designers in entrepreneurship education (Zulfiqar et al., 2019). ...
... The limited time and resource pressure set by the simulation will encourage students to improve the efficiency of teamwork and the ability to make judgments (Thanasi-Boçe, 2020). In order to surpass rivals in the fierce market competition, simulation requires participants to make reasonable resource allocation decisions and smoothly realize product production and sales, which can effectively enhance students' entrepreneurial awareness and enhance entrepreneurial skills (Fox et al., 2018). Therefore, the authenticity, repetitive operation, and result monitoring functions of the simulation process help participants better familiarize themselves with the rules of the real business world (Hsieh et al., 2016) and enhance their entrepreneurial practice capabilities. ...
Full-text available
Business simulation games (BSGs) have been widely used in entrepreneurship education with positive effects. However, there are still some deficiencies in the BSGs, such as limited guidance, low uncertainty and limited simulation environment, which make it impossible to exert the maximum effect. Artificial intelligence (AI) can solve the above shortcomings. The combination of AI and BSGs is the possible development direction of BSGs. But how to effectively combine BSGs with AI is still an open question. Using a quasi-experimental design, this study uses fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to analyze how participants’ entrepreneurial attitude changes in BSGs. The results show that BSGs can effectively improve entrepreneurial attitude, and there are four types of promotion configurations. These four configurations consist of five antecedent conditions. According to the above conclusions, AI can improve entrepreneurial attitude in BSGs in various ways, such as simulating competitors, providing targeted feedback for failures, and improving game experience. The contribution of this paper is to highlight the possibility of combining AI with BSGs, and to provide suggestions on how AI can intervene in BSGs.
... Academia and business are increasingly using BSGs to encourage participants in decision-making, risk management, communication and teamwork (Costin et al., 2018). In addition, BSGs have the advantages of low cost, low risk, and repeatability (Fox et al., 2018), which is not limited to specific locations (Zulfiqar et al., 2021). The possible value of BSGs to education is also a focus of future educational research (Bondar et al., 2020;Zulfiqar et al., 2021). ...
... Entrepreneurs often need to make decisions in the face of an uncertain environment, but BSGs simulate a relatively stable environment with a low degree of uncertainty. And uncertainty is a difficult concept to model (Fox et al., 2018). The intervention of AI makes it possible for the diverse contexts of BSGs, and contextual learning is an important consideration for game designers in entrepreneurship education (Zulfiqar et al., 2019). ...
... The limited time and resource pressure set by the simulation will encourage students to improve the efficiency of teamwork and the ability to make judgments (Thanasi-Boçe, 2020). In order to surpass rivals in the fierce market competition, simulation requires participants to make reasonable resource allocation decisions and smoothly realize product production and sales, which can effectively enhance students' entrepreneurial awareness and enhance entrepreneurial skills (Fox et al., 2018). Therefore, the authenticity, repetitive operation, and result monitoring functions of the simulation process help participants better familiarize themselves with the rules of the real business world (Hsieh et al., 2016) and enhance their entrepreneurial practice capabilities. ...
Full-text available
Business simulation games (BSGs) have been widely used in entrepreneurship education with positive effects. However, there are still some deficiencies in the BSGs, such as limited guidance, low uncertainty and limited simulation environment, which make it impossible to exert the maximum effect. Artificial intelligence (AI) can solve the above shortcomings. The combination of AI and BSGs is the possible development direction of BSGs. But how to effectively combine BSGs with AI is still an open question. Using a quasi-experimental design, this study uses fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to analyze how participants’ entrepreneurial attitude changes in BSGs. The results show that BSGs can effectively improve entrepreneurial attitude, and there are four types of promotion configurations. These four configurations consist of five antecedent conditions. According to the above conclusions, AI can improve entrepreneurial attitude in BSGs in various ways, such as simulating competitors, providing targeted feedback for failures, and improving game experience. The contribution of this paper is to highlight the possibility of combining AI with BSGs, and to provide suggestions on how AI can intervene in BSGs.
... Virtual technology is now used in many fields and is appreciated by companies and individuals. The functions and characteristics of virtual technology can be used to solve the challenges brought by resource allocation and rationalization, enterprise system management, etc. [7,8]. In the field of education, virtual simulation technology can provide students with a realistic, interesting, and vivid learning environment, such as virtual classrooms, virtual laboratories, virtual simulation campuses, computer space travel, and CAI courseware. ...
Full-text available
IoT technology originated from the third scientific and technological revolution, which refers to the connection of objects and networks through information sensor devices according to an agreed protocol. It communicates and circulates information through the information dissemination medium during the connection process to achieve smart recognition, supervision, and other functions. The Internet of Things is to interconnect all items with the Internet through radio frequency identification, infrared sensors, global positioning systems, laser scanners, and other sensing equipment according to the agreed communication protocol. It is a kind of network that realizes intelligent identification, positioning, analysis, monitoring, and management. The development of virtualization technology promotes the development of educational computers, and the reform of basic education curriculum promotes the profound reform of science education. It is also an inevitable requirement for cultivating talents with scientific culture and innovation ability. Virtual simulation technology is the product of combining simulation technology and virtual reality technology on the basis of the rapid development of information technology such as multimedia technology, virtual reality technology, and network communication technology. This paper is aimed at studying the construction of a virtual simulation college student innovation and entrepreneurship platform based on the IoT technology. This paper takes college students as the research object, and according to the application characteristics of local higher education institutions, establishes a systematic training platform for college students’ innovation ability to improve students’ innovation and entrepreneurship ability. This paper shows that the proportion of students’ innovative ability is as high as 56%, and the proportion of innovative activities organized by schools is as high as 70%. Students are generally not very motivated to innovate.
... Furthermore, the decisions made in these scenarios would have a drastic effect on the success of the business. In this sense, and as Fox et al. (2018) also stated, the existence of a risk-free environment is one of the great potentials that serious games offer in critical activity fields. ...
Traditionally, serious games have been used in the development of hard skills, particularly in technical areas such as health, engineering, defence or the environment. However, they can also be applied in the assessment and development of soft skills, which are increasingly key competencies for an individual in the twenty-first century. In this sense, this study proposes the adoption of the FLIGBY serious game in a higher education institution to evaluate and develop students' skills in this field. The findings indicate a large correspondence between the soft skills fundamental to the twenty-first century and the assessment dimensions recorded by the game. Furthermore, the findings reveal that FLIGBY can be used primarily to develop skills in dimensions such as leadership, conflict management, diplomacy and emotional intelligence. These findings are relevant for higher education institutions that intend to include and foster the development of soft skills competencies in their curricula.
... In ideological and political education, attention is paid to the cultivation of students' hard-working spirit and innovative ideas, which has laid a good foundation for the college students' spiritual quality. Students who have been cultivated with the awareness of pioneering and innovation can dynamically cope with employment pressure and try innovation through a self-driven mechanism (Fox et al., 2018). Ideological and political education has a long history in Chinese colleges and universities. ...
Full-text available
The purpose is to meet the needs of social development, encourage college students’ employability, and alleviate social pressure. First, the domestic and international employment situation is discussed along with the derivation of entrepreneurship education. Second, ideological and political education is summarized, and accordingly, its internal advantages and external conditions are explained. Then, the current situation and existing problems of entrepreneurship education in Chinese higher education institutions are analyzed from the perspectives of entrepreneurship ideology, entrepreneurship thinking, and entrepreneurship ability. Consequently, a proposal is put forward to integrate entrepreneurship education into ideological and political education to promote the coordinated development of the multidisciplinary course. Finally, the Questionnaire Survey (QS) is designed on the relationship between college students’ entrepreneurship education and ideological and political education, and the QS is conducted from three aspects: college students’ entrepreneurship views, suggestions, and cognition of the ideological and political education. The QS results show that less than 10% of students are very interested in entrepreneurship education, and most students believe that entrepreneurship education plays a very limited role in their growth. Additionally, classroom teaching accounts for the most in entrepreneurship education, while extracurricular practice accounts for only 15%. In terms of teaching content, 80% of students believe that teachers of professional courses have made outstanding contributions to teaching results, but the number of teachers of professional courses is the least among all teachers. Further, the satisfaction of entrepreneurship education among college students is analyzed through the QS by issuing to three local higher education institutions, finding that the college students’ understanding of entrepreneurship education is incomplete. The advantages of ideological and political education should be fully exerted to improve the recognition of entrepreneurship education, and entrepreneurship education should be integrated into daily teaching content. In this way, entrepreneurship education and ideological and political education can be fused, and entrepreneurship education can promote students’ entrepreneurial ability and entrepreneurial thinking.
Digital game-based learning (GBL) is attracting attention in economics education, as this type of learning allows abstract content to be simulated through play. However, a systematic review of its effects is still lacking. This paper synthesizes the empirical evidence by addressing the following two questions: (1) What are the effects of GBL in economics education compared to those of other media? (2) Which features of GBL are important for learning? Intervention studies (k = 20, 2011-2021) that focus on upper secondary and higher education are analyzed. The findings identify advantages of GBL concerning subject knowledge. However, the findings related to fostering motivation are inconsistent. Moreover, students’ performance expectations are found to promote learning engagement. Thus, GBL is suitable if the target group can recognize the content-related benefit, and if the content is designed to be challenging.
Higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) are reliable predictors of success in school and the workplace. A typical technique for encouraging higher-order thinking is to use instructional design interventions that engage learners in simple cognitive activities. Business simulation game (BSG) is one of the types of interactive learning environments that can increase HOTS. In addition, student engagement and attitude toward technology use are considered strong influences on HOTS. The study explored the effect of using a BSG on HOTS and student engagement. It examined the influence of attitude toward the use of a BSG on HOTS and student engagement. The results of the t-test analysis showed that learning activities using BSG had a positive effect on HOTS and student engagement. Additionally, PLS-SEM analysis results indicated that immersion, interaction, and intention to use the game influence student engagement. Furthermore, student engagement significantly influenced HOTS. The findings indicate that students must demonstrate that they are engaging actively in a course to improve HOTS and that a BSG can be a valuable and effective tool for promoting engagement. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic caused limitations in sampling and representativeness of respondents. Future research should involve a bigger sample size and students who have attended related courses.
Purpose Current research lacks a clear definition of blended learning in entrepreneurship education (EE), a comprehensive overview of the recent research, and a conceptualization of different types of blends with their respective challenges and advantages. In response to that, the author systematically reviewed the literature on blended learning in EE and developed four archetypes of blends for entrepreneurship educators. Design/methodology/approach The author conducted a systematic literature review and identified 75 relevant peer-reviewed articles published between 2004 and 2021. Findings The findings suggest that blended learning is a common yet underexplored and undertheorized phenomenon in EE. The findings display the rationale and motives, educator characteristics, content, teaching methods, student characteristics, and results of blended learning in EE. Originality/value The paper is original because it posits blended learning as an independent and unique mode of delivery in EE. In addition, the author suggests four archetypes of blends in EE: the traditional blend, the for-action blend, the in-action blend, and the experiential blend. For each of these blends, the author identified specific advantages and challenges and discussed under which circumstances educators may employ them.
Purpose During the current global epidemic, e-learning and mobile learning have been rapidly developed in the field of entrepreneurship education. The effect of these learning methods remains to be confirmed. The purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of mobile business simulation games in entrepreneurship education. Design/methodology/approach From May 2020 to July 2020, the authors adopted a quasi-experimental design to explore the effect of mobile business simulation games in entrepreneurship education. The authors set up an experimental group to participate in mobile business simulation games, with a total of 105 students, and set up a control group of 100 students. At the beginning and end of the experiment, data on entrepreneurial attitude, self-efficacy, entrepreneurial intention and other related variables were collected. Paired sample T -test and regression analysis were used to analyze the results. Findings The authors found that mobile business simulation games can improve entrepreneurial attitudes and self-efficacy, but cannot change entrepreneurial intentions. The paired sample T -test in the experimental group showed that the entrepreneurial attitude and entrepreneurial self-efficacy of the participants were significantly improved, but the entrepreneurial intention did not change significantly. The above three variables did not change significantly in the control group. The research results also show that flow experience is very important in mobile business simulation games, which can improve entrepreneurial attitude and entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Originality/value The authors’ findings confirm the positive effects of mobile business simulation games in entrepreneurship education, which can improve entrepreneurial attitudes and entrepreneurial self-efficacy. But the disadvantage of mobile business simulation games is that they cannot increase entrepreneurial intention. In addition, the flow experience needs to be valued in mobile business simulation games. The research in this paper has implications for how mobile learning can be used in entrepreneurship education during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, research is of great value on how mobile business simulation games can be improved.
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In this article, we examine whether university students are optimistic and/or overconfident about entrepreneurship, and the impact this has on their entrepreneurial intentions. We do so in three different nations corresponding to three different cultural clusters. Findings suggest that, students are optimistic—with American students being the most optimistic in comparison to their Spanish and Indian peers—but not overconfident. In addition, we find family support to moderate the relationship between entrepreneurial optimism, entrepreneurial overconfidence and entrepreneurial intentions. However, this moderating effect is not uniform across countries.
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This article develops a conceptual framework for entrepreneurship education based on a reconceptualization of the individual–opportunity nexus as presented by Shane and Venkataraman. In order to achieve this objective, we reinterpret both the basic assumptions pertaining to the individual and the ontological and epistemological nature of entrepreneurial opportunities. On this basis, we build a six-step teaching model, which operationalizes a series of entrepreneurial learning elements. These include (1) identity work, (2) disclosing disharmonies, (3) qualifying disharmonies into general anomalies, (4) constructing innovative solutions, (5) prototyping and (6) business modelling. Finally, we discuss the implications of the reconceptualized framework in terms of the research questions governing the field of entrepreneurship education, for the practice of entrepreneurship education and for policy to promote entrepreneurship education.
After tracing the evolution of entrepreneurship within institutions of higher learning, the authors explore the key elements that constitute a comprehensive entrepreneurship program. Best practices at leading universities and differing kinds of academic environments are highlighted. They examine multiple aspects of program management and infrastructure, including curriculum and degree program development, where entrepreneurship is administratively housed, how it is organized, and approaches to staffing and resource acquisition. © Michael H. Morris, Donald F. Kuratko and Jeffrey R. Cornwall 2013. All rights reserved.
- This paper describes the process of inducting theory using case studies from specifying the research questions to reaching closure. Some features of the process, such as problem definition and construct validation, are similar to hypothesis-testing research. Others, such as within-case analysis and replication logic, are unique to the inductive, case-oriented process. Overall, the process described here is highly iterative and tightly linked to data. This research approach is especially appropriate in new topic areas. The resultant theory is often novel, testable, and empirically valid. Finally, framebreaking insights, the tests of good theory (e.g., parsimony, logical coherence), and convincing grounding in the evidence are the key criteria for evaluating this type of research.
Where there is uncertainty, there is bound to be failure. It is not surprising therefore, that many new ventures fail. What happens to entrepreneurs when their business fails? We hear of highly successful entrepreneurs extolling the virtues of failure as a valuable teacher. Yet, the aftermath of failure is often fraught with psychological, social and financial turmoil. The purpose of this article is to review research on life after business failure for entrepreneurs, from the immediate aftermath through to recovery and re-emergence. First, we examine the financial, social and psychological costs of failure, highlighting factors that may influence the magnitude of these costs (including individual responses to managing these costs). Second, we review research that explains how entrepreneurs make sense of and learn from failure. Finally, we present research on the outcomes of business failure, including recovery as well as cognitive and behavioral outcomes. We develop a schema to organize extant work and use this as a platform for developing an agenda for future research.
Where there is uncertainty, there is bound to be failure. It is not surprising therefore, that many new ventures fail. What happens to entrepreneurs when their business fails? We hear of highly successful entrepreneurs extolling the virtues of failure as a valuable teacher. Yet, the aftermath of failure is often fraught with psychological, social and financial turmoil. The purpose of this article is to review research on life after business failure for entrepreneurs, from the immediate aftermath through to recovery and re-emergence. First, we examine the financial, social and psychological costs of failure, highlighting factors that may influence the magnitude of these costs (including individual responses to managing these costs). Second, we review research that explains how entrepreneurs make sense of and learn from failure. Finally, we present research on the outcomes of business failure, including recovery as well as cognitive and behavioral outcomes. We develop a schema to organize extant work and use this as a platform for developing an agenda for future research.
Purpose Serious games are playing an increasingly significant role across a range of educational contexts. Business focused serious games can provide students with an authentic learning experience and their use has been increasingly taken up by business school faculty, including those delivering entrepreneurship education (EE). The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the impact of participation in a serious business game on the entrepreneurial intent (EI) of undergraduate students. Design/methodology/approach The study adopts a pre-test/post-test quasi-experimental design. It employs a modified version of Linan et al. ’s (2011) EI model in the form of a questionnaire survey completed by 263 undergraduate business and management students. Findings A logic regression model was used to analyse the survey responses. The research findings indicate that the serious game used in this study has a significant negative impact on EI. Gender and role model effects are also identified from the analysis. Originality/value The paper contributes to the literature in two ways. First, it demonstrates the impact of serious business games on EI during the enterprise awareness stage of a student’s EE. Second, it provides a foundation for exploring the role that serious games can play in educating the potential entrepreneurs of the future.
This editorial discusses contemporary entrepreneurship education research and identifies the manner in which the three articles comprising this special issue contribute to advancing the theoretical and methodological foundations of the field. In so doing we seek to describe how and why entrepreneurship education research may struggle for legitimacy along with the complexities of working in this field. This special issue raises questions about entrepreneurship education research and, through the featured articles provides some responses. This special issue itself, however, is presented as part of an ongoing discussion about the nature and role of entrepreneurship education more widely and is intended to provoke further critical engagement and stimulate theoretical and methodological development.
This article develops a co-citation analysis covering the period 1991–2014 outlining the collective logic of authors conducting studies of entrepreneurship education. The core themes, major contributions and topological features characterising their relationships are identified. The findings indicate that the field has a polycentric structure with five core themes of which entrepreneurial intentions emerges as the most influential while the entrepreneurial learning and evaluation themes have emerged in recent years. These two core themes appear to foster changes within the current structure with the introduction of new theoretical inputs and the formation of new theoretical hubs. We argue that future research should attempt to organise focal themes into a theoretical framework that allows a comprehensive picture of entrepreneurship education.