Entrepreneurship for a Cause

Magnus Hoppe and Kamran Namdar reflect on their article, “Towards Entrepreneurship for a Cause: Educating Transformative Entrepreneurial Selves for a Better World,” which was recently published in Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy. Their reflection appears below the paper’s abstract.

In this essay we explore some central societal and educational problems that educators ought to address in order to support sustainability and we argue the need for educating transformative entrepreneurial selves, that is, students with abilities to muster and organize resources pursuing a cause. The current situation calls for youth to develop entrepreneurial competences that will give them the means to introduce and drive change through individual action. In so doing, we put forward the concept of entrepreneurship for a cause to challenge more traditional ideas of what entrepreneurship encompasses. For education, we subsequently suggest using the concept of entrepreneurship education for a cause. We argue that entrepreneurship education has an important role to play as an enabler, but one in which individual self-interests connected to business venturing are given less attention than reflections upon how each individual, through decisive action, can support the creation of a more sustainable society. Central to our argument is the insight that new ideas about meaning in life that will support changing society away from consumption towards sustainability need to be added as a leading dimension in any education with the aspiration of transforming the world through the actions of its students.

Einstein is known to have said that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Considering all the problems we see in the world right now, it is easy to see that there are some fundamental faults in how our systems work. War, famine, and pollution are slowly killing the planet. Unfortunately, assuming that Einstein is right, our traditional ways of thinking and acting will not suffice to solve these massive problems as they are part of this faulty system. The same goes for how our traditional schools and education are designed, being constructed quite like industrial conveyor belts, churning out as identical produce as possible, one cohort at a time. Education doesn’t have to be this way; we could open ourselves to alternative ideas on learning and how to design this learning. We should also realize that it is within our power to change schools and education, even though it will not be easy.

Having come to this conclusion, we started to look for suitable approaches for instigating the change we find necessary. We found great support from the progressive movement as well as great minds and educators like Dewey, Brameld, and Freire, who envision a more human-centered society that could be realized through the actions of its students. Many of today’s students wish to become the change they wish to see, to paraphrase another great thinker and person – Mahatma Gandhi.

Another point of inspiration is entrepreneurship theory in general and entrepreneurship education in particular. They both deal with building action competencies designed to introduce novelty and drive change. In this article, we have downplayed the business part of entrepreneurship and instead view it as the ability to muster and organize resources pursuing a cause. Designing education for creating this ability and evoking a sense of wonder regarding the existential, ethical, and aesthetic aspects of human nature is what we find should be the most potent way of tackling today’s pressing problems. In the article, we will not only take you through this reasoning but also give you hope for the future along with some ideas on how you can join in instigating change in our educational systems.

Together, this is how we can create a new kind of thinking that can challenge the existing system, where evolving thinking and knowledge develop along with the actions that will change the system. At least, this is what we envision.

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Magnus Hoppe and Kamran Namdar

Magnus Hoppe (left) is an associate professor in business administration with a focus on organization and management at Mälardalen University, Sweden. Kamran Namdar was a senior lecturer at Mälardalen University, Sweden.

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