Entrepreneur v MBA Debate Continues

I recently completed the first draft of a policy analysis brief investigating the state of entrepreneurship education in higher ed — especially at the grad school level.

It turns out most of the endowments, classes, centers, etc. are located within MBA programs. However, many studies (Moutray, Bhide) show that most entrepreneurs/self-employed are not MBA holders.

I came across a MaRS Blog (out of the University of Toronto) post that delves further into this argument. Keri Damen offers some insights by highlighting some research contrasting MBA thinking and entrepreneurial thinking. From Damen:

It’s not a surprising distinction given the old adage that entrepreneurs are born, not made, and the fact that everyone seems to be doing an MBA these days. However Bill Taylor’s blog takes it a step further and argues that the differences between the two are becoming more important and that it’s time to change our minds about what kinds of people are best-equipped to become the business leaders of the future.

Taylor cites Professor Saras Sarasvathy’s interesting research about entrepreneurial thinking in which she’s discovered that MBAs use “effectual” reasoning while entrepreneurs use “causal” reasoning. According to Professor Sarasvathy, the causal reasoning of entrepreneurs “begins with a pre-determined goal and a given set of means and seeks to identify the optimal -fastest, cheapest, most efficient, etc.- alternative to achieve that goal.” An MBA’s effectual reasoning “does not begin with a specific goal. Instead, it begins with a given set of means and allows goals to emerge contingently over time from the varied imagination and diverse aspirations of the founders and the people they interact with.”

Gonna go check out Sarasvathy’s research. Any thoughts?


4 thoughts on “Entrepreneur v MBA Debate Continues

  1. Education can really get us far but patience and perseverance are all keys in succeeding in business and entrepreneurship. Thanks for sharing this. This site might be of your interest too.

  2. entrepreneurship in my understanding is not necessarily for business start up only but also for effectiveness in whatever one does. It is an exposure to creative and innovative way of doing things.

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