Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?

Eighty years ago, Ralph Heilman, the dean of Northwestern University’s School of Commerce, wrote an article entitled, “Can Business Be Taught?” His answer: yes. Take the lessons about what works and what doesn’t, analyze and organize them, and then teach them—just as we do with engineers, doctors and lawyers.

Clearly, the process works for training M.B.A.s. So, why not entrepreneurs? After all, entrepreneurs are the ultimate general managers. They can benefit from much of the same knowledge that business students gain about marketing, finance and other topics, complemented by lessons that are specifically tailored to start-ups.

And those lessons are getting better all the time.

Early entrepreneurial education was largely based on case studies and anecdotes. Over the past decade, though, academics have brought a new level of sophistication to analyzing what leads to entrepreneurial success or failure. We’re now developing a “Moneyball for Founders”—rigorous data with which to scrutinize anecdotes and rules of thumb—that promises to revolutionize entrepreneurial education just as a similar movement revolutionized baseball a decade ago. To Read More

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