In the latest podcast from Journal of Management Education, associate editor Jane Murray talks with authors Alex Bolinger and Kory Brown about the importance of incorporating lessons on entrepreneurial failure in to management education. Their article, “Entrepreneurial Failure as a Threshold Concept: The Effect of Student Experiences,” published in the August 2015 issue of Journal of Management Education further delves into the importance of entrepreneurial failure as a learning opportunity.
Some curricular elements are threshold concepts that involve “troublesome knowledge,” not because they are difficult for students to comprehend per se, but because they are challenging for students to fully appreciate. In this article, we suggest that entrepreneurial failure is a threshold concept in entrepreneurship courses because students may get so fixated on failure’s economic costs that they neither fully appreciate the social and emotional costs nor recognize the potential benefits of failure to entrepreneurs. In a multiphase empirical study, we explore the effects of entrepreneurial experiences on how students categorize and conceptualize entrepreneurial failure. We find that students with entrepreneurial experiences provide more complex, multicategorical descriptions of failure and are more likely to represent the useful aspects of failure in their descriptions. Our findings highlight the role of experiences in facilitating students’ understanding of the threshold concept of entrepreneurial failure and suggest that entrepreneurship educators can leverage student experiences to promote more complex representations that account for both the costs and benefits of failure.
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Dr. Kory Brown is an Assistant Professor of Management and teaches strategy and knowledge management courses in the undergraduate and MBA programs at PLU. He also taught strategy at the University of Utah where he was recognized for outstanding teaching and operations management at Idaho State University. His research interests explore collaborative innovation, technology management, networks, alliances, and entrepreneurship. Prior to earning his PhD at the University of Utah in 2010, Dr. Brown spent nearly two decades in the semiconductor and wireless industries. Starting his career as an electrical engineer after earning a BSEE at Brigham Young University in 1991, Dr. Brown worked at American Microsystems in Idaho and San Diego. He held management roles in R&D, marketing, and engineering, and was a member of the IPO Strategy Team. In 1995, he earned a MBA from Idaho State University where he was named MBA Student of the Year. In 2001, he moved into an executive role as VP Wireless for ZMD, a German semiconductor firm, where he also pursued a venture capital funded spinoff of his division as CEO before the firm chose to internally fund. He has extensive involvement in standard technologies such as ZigBee, Bluetooth, USB, and IrDA. Dr. Brown actively consults with technology firms in technology-centric business planning, corporate strategy, and external financing.
Dr. Alex Bolinger is an Assistant Professor of Management at Idaho State University, where he teaches courses in Organizational Behavior, Strategy, and Negotiation. His research explores the dynamics of group decision-making and has appeared in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Management Education, Small Group Research, and Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, as well as being featured in the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review. Alex has been nominated for the Outstanding Teaching and Service Awards at Idaho State University and was the 2013 Outstanding Teacher for ISU’s College of Business.