Reconceptualising Curriculum Design for Entrepreneurship in Higher Education


  • Simon Bridge Ulster University
  • Cecilia Hegarty Regional Networks Executive, PLATO East Border Region


entrepreneurship education, being entrepreneurial, reverse engineering, business plan, course content, effectuation


This paper challenges some of the assumptions that underlie the now widespread provision of third level ‘entrepreneurship education’ and seeks to open up the debate by suggesting an alternative view which, while the case for it is not fully proven, might nevertheless merit some consideration.


Although entrepreneurship education appears now to be well established, it has in-built contradictions because it encompasses both being entrepreneurial and being an entrepreneur which, according to some arguments, are not the same thing. Nevertheless, because of an apparent assumption that in essence they have a lot in common, and because the business plan provides a convenient and ready-made guide to what to teach for being an entrepreneur, the content of being entrepreneurial courses often appears to follow similar business plan-based lines.


If, however, it is accepted that being entrepreneurial and being an entrepreneur are not variations of the same thing, and in particular that being entrepreneurial is not a sub-set of being an entrepreneur, then it could be helpful to explore the implications of treating them as being different. In particular this would challenge the apparent presumption that a business plan-based approach is valid as the basis for all entrepreneurship education situations.


Instead the paper suggests a process of ‘reverse engineering’ course content from the outcomes it is hoped to produce. Because there is little in the published literature to indicate what the content of a ‘being entrepreneurial’ course might be, it outlines some ideas based on exploring epistemological approaches to teaching entrepreneurship and the authors’ own experiences. For instance it is suggested that such programmes should help learners:

  • To consider different perspectives.
  • To explore possibilities in an ‘effectual’ way.
  • To analyse situations and to persuade others of the relevance and desirability of new solutions.
  • To acquire and use the different forms of social capital that will assist them in being entrepreneurial as a 21st Century graduate.


In all this the paper does not seek to close the argument by proving conclusively all its suggestions. Instead it seeks to stimulate discussion by making a prima face case for changing assumptions and also by making new proposals for the content of ‘being entrepreneurial’ courses.

Author Biography

Simon Bridge, Ulster University

Visiting professor






Research Articles