Business Plans: Ten Propositions to Foster the Culture of Entrepreneurship at German Universities


Why 10 propositions? Entrepreneurship is shaping business education around the world. The number of chairs in entrepreneurship is rising not only in the United States but in Europe as well. What can be expected by these chairs? Can entrepreneurship be taught? Is it really the duty of the universities to "make" more start-up entrepreneurs?

One argument in favor of the new entrepreneurship activities of the universities comes from the findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor conducted by the London Business School and Babson College. If it is correct that entrepreneurship plays an important role for the economic development of an economy and that Germany lacks adequate entrepreneurship education at all levels of the educational system, then more and better information and activities in that field may lead to higher national economic growth.

In May 1999, the Berlin Institute of Entrepreneurship invited leading entrepreneurship educators and researchers to a workshop. The idea of the workshop, which took place on the occasion of the 1st German Start-Up Day Berlin 1999, was to bring together representatives of different universities and different fields of entrepreneurship from all over Germany, in order to identify what universities should do and what they can do--or cannot. The Berlin Institute's conference was soon followed by two additional meetings. In December 1999, Prof. Sternberg presented the findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. In May 2000, Prof. Hay and Prof. Gibb extended the international perspective by giving more details on the history and current situation of entrepreneurship research and teaching.

After intensive work and the exchange of pros and cons, the experts came up with 10 ideas which may mark the path of German entrepreneurship education in the 21st century: The Ten Berlin Propositions to Foster the Culture of Entrepreneurship at German Universities.

The 10 Berlin Propositions:

  • A specific encouragement of independent thinking and acting according to the spirit of entrepreneurship is possible and an important responsibility of universities.

  • Universities should foster entrepreneurship on three levels:

    • toward the general capability of independent thinking and acting,

    • toward self-employment, and

    • toward entrepreneurship and the creation of jobs by starting new companies.

  • Entrepreneurship at universities should reach all faculties.

  • All universities should set up "Centers of Entrepreneurship."

  • Study materials and teaching should focus on action-oriented learning.

  • The core processes of the university should offer the entrepreneurial personality enough freedom to grow. Flexibility, leadership, team spirit, and the feeling for the situation are important skills to open up new sources of knowledge. These skills can be taught during studies and research.

  • The reflection on what is existing is a primary task of the universities. These reflections might be the starting point of entrepreneurial idea creation and development.

  • Role models are an important factor for the creation of entrepreneurial activities.

  • Entrepreneurship education needs flexible teachers and flexible structures of university administration.

  • A high-quality education requires the motivation of all students, as well as the support and nurture of the best.

  • In the following months, each proposition will be discussed by one of the participating professors.

    Worksop Participants and Invited Authors:

    • Prof. Bischoff and Prof. Karcher (HfW Hamburg)

    • Prof. Dr. Braun (Universität Rostock)

    • Prof. Dr. Dieterle (University of Applied Sciences Wildau)

    • Prof. Dr. Faltin (Free University Berlin)

    • Prof. Geis (Free University Berlin)

    • Prof. Gibb (Durham University, GB)

    • Prof. Dr. Harms (FHW Berlin)

    • Prof. Hay (London Business School)

    • Prof. Dr. Klandt (European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel)

    • Prof. Dr. Malek (Humboldt University Berlin)

    • Prof. Dr. Meyer (University Flensburg)

    • Mr. Mitterauer (Institut L&R Sozialforschung Wien)

    • Dr. Ripsas (Berlin Institute of Entrepreneurship)

    • Prof. Dr. Seliger (Technical University Berlin)

    • Prof. Dr. Semlinger (FHTW Berlin)

    • Prof. Szyperski and Mr. Herting (Universität Köln-AG Entrepreneurship)

    • Prof. Dr. Weißbach (FH Frankfurt/Main)

    • Prof. Sternberg and Mr. Otten (Universität Köln-Wirtschaftsgeographie)

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