Book review – Teaching Entrepreneurship: A Practice-Based Approach


By Heidi M Neck, Patricia G Greene, Candida G Brush

E-ISBN 978 178254056 4, ISBN 978 1 78254 055 7
e ISBN 978 1 78254 069 4
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc, 2014


Book Review by Carolina Dederichs Nielson,i Hugo Rafael Pereira,ii
Vando da Conceição Rosasiii Deborah Pavetits Barretoiv e
Branca Terra


This is a review of the book Teaching Entrepreneurship: A Practice-Based Approach, published in 2014 that addresses the entrepreneurship theme, from the following author’s point of view: Heidi Neck, Patricia Greene and Candida Brush. Neck, Greene and Brush are professors at Babson College, a world reference in entrepreneurship, located in Massachusetts, USA. Heidi Neck, PhD, is a professor of Business Studies and teaches MBA entrepreneurship to executives. Dr Greene’s research centers itself in the identification, acquisition and combination of business resources, particularly for minority women and entrepreneurs. Dr Candida Brush is a full professor and known for her pioneering research in female entrepreneurship in the early 1980s, resulting in one of the first books on the subject.

The book impresses with its scientific rigor, where innumerous citations from renowned authors are referenced. At the end of each Chapter, bibliographic references are listed, demonstrating that the research is consistency carried out.

The book is organized in twelve Chapters. Chapter 1 is entitled: “Teaching entrepreneurship as a method that requires practice”. In support of your arguments, Neck, Greene and Brush quote renowned authors like Peter Drucker. Drucker affirms that “… entrepreneurship is neither science nor art. It is a practice …”. So, the new approach is advancing the notion that entrepreneurship is a method composed of a practice portfolio. And these practices can happen in any course, in any campus, with any student!

In sequence, the authors divide the book into two parts. Part I, named “The practices of entrepreneurship education: the theory”, with five more Chapters that detail the practices of play, empathy, creation, experimentation and reflection. Part II, named: “The Practices of Entrepreneurship Education: The Application”, with the next six Chapters, includes a series of forty-two experimental exercises, organized by practice that can help students develop each of their entrepreneurial practices within a classroom setting. In the last Chapter of this part, a final note states that the practice supports acceptance.

Besides that, in Part I, the authors present four figures, six tables and two boxes. The figures: “Theory-practice matrix”, “Method versus process”, “The practices of entrepreneurship education”, “John E. and Alice L Butler Venture Accelerator Framework”; the tables: “Nine dimensions of observation”, “Assumptions and examples of predictive and creative approaches”, “Roots of creativity pedagogies”, “Theoretical foundations of experimentation”, “Evolution of reflective learning”, Theories and models of reflection”, “Types of reflection”; the boxes: “Defining towards fun”, “Video gaming quick facts”. In Part II, the authors present five figures, two tables and one box. The figures: “Student Mind Dump Worksheet”, “Ideaspace image”, “Stacked cups”, “Examples of class distribution on fear of failure”, “Layout of cards”; the tables: “Opportunity checklist”, “Exercises organized by practice and content area”; the box: “Welcome to the Resource Challenge”. All of these materials can assist the reader in a better understanding of the process of producing knowledge about entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, this book proposes a new approach in teaching entrepreneurship. Despite the scarcity of research on the impact of approaches, the literature presents several criticisms. This part of the criticism, according to the authors, answered positively to the question “Can entrepreneurship be taught?”. Thus, Chapter 1 addresses the fundamentals of teaching entrepren-eurship as a method, unlike approaches that use entrepreneurship as a process. This Chapter is organized by the following subtitles: “The evolution of entrepreneurship education: from individual to process to method”, “The Theory versus Practice Conundrum”, “Entrepren-eurship as a Method”, “The five practices of Entrepreneurship Education”, “Organization of the Book”.

In the second Chapter “The practice of play”, the authors explain the necessity of using games in entrepreneurship education, because it develops “a free and imaginative mind, allowing one to see a wealth of possibilities, a world of opportunities, and a pathway to more innovative ways of being entrepreneurial”. In addition, the foundations describe concepts of play, its rules, its competitive characteristics, fun and quantified results and its role in the context of learning. In different types of cognitive sciences, play is used as a research object. This Chapter organizes itself using the following subtitles: “The practice of play”, “Games as context for play”, “The role of games in the practice of play”, “Games for learning and education” and “Games and play in entrepreneurship education: concluding thoughts”.

The third Chapter, “The practice of empathy”, addresses “design thinking and the particular role that empathy plays in design”. According to the authors, there is a logical connection between empathy and “problem seeking”. The book presents, as an example, the observation of the check-in process at the airport. In analyzing this situation, several questions are elaborated to understand the process and help us to understand the problems that could benefit from creative solutions, such as: what activities do ticket agents perform? What are people doing? How much time does it take? Is it noisy or silent? In addition, the practice of empathy allows the student to feel and understand others and connect themselves with clients in a meaningful level. It is an important practice to lead people. This Chapter is organized by the following subtitles: “The origins of empathy”, “Design thinking”, Techniques to practice empathy”.

The fourth Chapter, “The practice of creation”, identifies the need to modify the taught way of the linear process of creation, such as an elaboration of a business plan. In this elaboration, the next process is identified: identify the opportunity, develop a step-by-step plan and, after the plan, the expected result. In a different way, the authors’ proposal transforms this point of view. The proposal shows that the opportunity can be elaborated or created, based on observation and reflection. In this context, the theory “design thinking” is considered a method for creative solutions. This Chapter is organized by the following subtitles: “A brief history of creativity research”, “Teaching creation as a practice – examples” and “Role of instructor”.

The fifth Chapter, “The practice of experimentation”, highlights the importance of experimentation for teaching, used by several authors as reference for learning. The recent study of Campitelli e Gobet2 (2011) estimated that chess players need only 3000 hours to become masters. In this context, “The opportunity to experiment and learn with experience that allows the students to practice entrepreneurship that is generally limited by space, technology, resources and time”. Although this limitation exists, the authors provide the exercises for this practice in later Chapters. This Chapter is organized by the following subtitles: “Theoretical Background – Experimentation as a pedagogical practice” and “Practicing experimentation in the entrepre-neurial context”.

Although the definition of experimentation is “a teste or a trial”, the practice of experimentation is not simply trial and error. This practice is rooted to scientific principles of hypothesis development, tests, measurements and construction results. Thus, students can improve their performance and can be predictive of their commercial success.

The book provides an example of the practice of experimentation of Babson College, which is not found in the curriculum. Outside the classroom, the students experience entrepreneurship through Babson’s risk accelerator using start-up experimentation methodology. The accelerator provides resources for students to develop their business ideas forward and to manage uncertainties. The accelerator is based in three fundamental assumptions: action, practice and participation. The action determines that the student must act, strive, move to a new level, and gain access to different levels of resources, space and guidance. The practice principle is based on the development of skills and confidence in the student’s business skills. The principle of participation allows any student to have access to the accelerator, even if their ideas are for the development of non-profit organizations or social initiatives.

The sixth Chapter presents “The practice of reflection”. This practice is most important in entrepreneurial education, as it is considered necessary in the practices of play, empathy, creation and experimentation. Returning to the beginning, the book considers the teaching of entrepreneurship by method and not by process. Since the method is a set of practices, there is a difficulty in identifying reflection as a practice, but thinking is a way of acting. This Chapter is organized by the following subtitles: “The role of theory and practice in reflection”, “The nature of reflective learning”, “Reflection Frameworks”, “Reflection in entrepre-neurship education”, “Reflection on and in practice” and “Conclusion”.

Returning to theory versus practice, reflection brings the synthesis between theory and practice, a synthesis of thought and action. In short, the result between a lot of theory and a lot of practice is synthesis. Thus, as students are placed in environments that require “little time to think”, thinking is a way of acting and doing, and students need this practice. In this context, the practice of reflection becomes essential in environments of uncertainty.

Chapter 7, “Exercises to practice play”, relates exercises that aim to stimulate student’s understanding of entrepre-neurship, organizational culture, awaken creativity to solve questions, and the practice of new ideas. The main games are jigsaw puzzles, creating a quilt, building a culture of your business with The Sims, rain maker, improvisation for creativity, marshmallow tower, airplane contest and business model with the canvas game.

Chapter 8, “Exercises to practice empathy”, relates games that aim to stimulate student’s power of direction and observation, business practice with a focus on entrepreneurship, exercising equity (equality), and advice, overcoming risks based on business strategies, group dynamics and coexistence with critical leaders. The main exercises of these practices are: the power of preservation, the practice of negotiation for the acquisition of resources, monkey business, coaching exercises of sequenced and scaled pairs, interviewing an entrepreneur and self-assessment, perfect pitch, who’s in first?, family systems, understanding the entrepreneurial side of government and creating customer characters.

Chapter 9, “Exercises to practice creation”, relates exercises that aim to stimulate the understanding and the development of ideas, the identification and presentation of big opportunities, develop knowledge to generate resources and exercises to demonstrate that values can be generated from little. Among these practices, the following exercises are verified: Mind dumping for ideation, ideaspace, future trends and entrepreneurial opportunities, self-understanding for opportunity creation, resource acquisition game, building a strategic network, creating as an artist, the resource challenge and your strategic alliance.

Chapter 10, “Exercises to practice experimentation”, relates exercises that aim to stimulate the ability to assess the viability of concepts and risks, the importance of systems and processes to face the competition and the understanding of risk reduction by action of entrepreneurs. Examples of exercises include the following games: feasibility blueprint, competitive cup stacking, escalating market tests, opportunity screening, fear of failure, drawing bridges, US$ 5, US$ 50 and US$ 500 experiments.

Chapter 11, “Exercises to practice reflection”, presents exercises with reflective structure and include a set of dimensions to consider when reflecting. In addition, it supports ongoing criticism thinking about entrepreneurial learning and evaluating the whole to determine the best fit. It encourages students to interpret the experience, emphasizing that an entrepreneurial educational experience, along with reflective practice, develops coping skills and improves self-awareness and communication. For such practices there are the following exercises: developing reflective practice, reflecting on entrepreneurial experiences, cultural artifacts, passion cube, opportunity walk, plotting the growth of your business, Brewster’s Millions, the dark side of entrepreneurship and envisioning entrepreneurial leadership. This Chapter highlights even though the organizational culture will be a firm resource for managing, leading, inspiring, even compensating employees and that personal abilities allow you to think about existent opportunities in the intersection of your passions with strengths. Thus, the opportunity improves the understanding between ideas and values, encourages people to think about business, helps refine their ideas, extracts similarities and differences about how companies grow and that each business will exhibit different growth patterns, according to conditions and internal and external business structures. In this way, the exercises to practice reflection propose that leaders of growing companies understand the critical nature of comprehending, identifying and integrating their own values, which can and should be clearly articulated to integrate values in a convincing way of business leadership.

Finally, Chapter 12, “A final note: The practices support accreditation”, discuses the inclusion of entrepreneurial education for all types of students using an action-based method rooted in a specific set of practices. However, this requires chance on several levels, including educators that also need to change.

During these last years, the authors worked in conferences and meetings around the world in search of curriculum innovation and changes in methodology. They were asked about the assessment role, they heard that the perception of accreditation requirements, around the assessment of learning, limits the opportunities to try new pedagogical approaches and to change the more traditional pedagogical styles.

The authors defended the guaranty of learning, evaluating what worked and what is effective. In 2013, while writing a book, they learned about the accreditation norms of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and decided to explore the revised standards, given that AACSB is the largest association of business schools in the world, with 682 accredited schools in forty-five countries. The AACSB review emphasized the quality and guarantee of learning, adding three new areas of interest: innovation, impact and effectiveness, definitively aligning teaching interests with the approach advocated in this book.

In this review, there are new patterns of particular interest: guidance in the area of general business knowledge in relation to evidence-based decision making and data analysis; teaching effectiveness developing skills in an environment of change and qualification, and finally the engage-ment provided by raising the scholarship and developing inter-sections between theory and practice.3
In order to deepen the understanding of the logic and expectations of implementation about standards and, in addition, to prove the practice-based approach described in this book, AACSB President John Fernandes participated in a twenty-question interview with the authors. John Fernandes says that the committee worked hard to place emphasis on the three main contributions of the revised standards in 2013, described as: innovation in business schools – to create and sustain values in the community they serve; go beyond quality to ensure that business schools have an impact on both academic education and knowledge creation; and promote opportunities, improving the level of engagement among teachers, students and industry.

The 2013 standards promote management education for flexibility in approach, market, focus and inclusion of students in a multidisciplinary sense. This flexibility benefits those who are interested in promoting innovation, entrepre-neurship and creative design thinking, through research, interdisciplinary cooperation, and working with institutions outside of the business school.

From 2003 to 2013, there were changes in many items in schools and, as a result, the guarantee of learning was actually inserted in the institutions. The important thing is that, through the standards, objectives were set for business schools to achieve in extension courses. Schools follow these goals through their own planning and present innovative strategies. During the standards review process, schools were eager to share these strategies or results with the AACSB review teams. At the same time, they brought new ideas and processes to the conferences, sharing best practices, including and highlighting best practices in AACSB research reports. True innovation and growth take place in our schools. AACSB serves as the channel to bring them together so that everyone can learn and, as a result, the industry moves forward. Best practices and innovative ideas can only advance when they are shared and built.

John Fernandes concludes by saying that schools need to do everything they can to inspire creativity and curiosity in the student. For real success, there must be a natural level of creativity or curiosity that instinctively comes to students. As the director of an entrepreneurial program, he would like to try to determine a way in which we can access the creativity quotient of students entering a program. Knowing this item would be valuable for developing successful curricular and determining what students need to learn. At the moment, the focus for business schools is to improve innovation and engagement, with better application and flexibility.

This book shows the teaching approach to entrepreneurship applied at Babson College with a focus on practices for fixing that knowledge. According to the authors, these practices help students to develop the skills necessary for the application of entrepreneurial actions, whether in their daily lives or in their businesses, identified and capturing the opportunities that arise throughout their lives. Entrepreneurship teachers will be able to use this book as a guide for their classroom activities.

1 Available on: <> accessed on 27 July 2020.
2 Campitelli, G and Gobet, F. Deliberate practice: Necessary but not sufficient. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(5), 280-85. 2011
3 Accreditation standard of AACSB. Available on: <> Access on: 7 November, 2017.

I Master’s in accounting at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ)
Ii Master’s in accounting at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ)
Iii Master’s in accounting at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ)
Iv Undergraduate student in Accounting and Extension Scholarship at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ)
V PhD Professor at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ)


Published by the Triple Helix Association  –  ISSN 2281-4515


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