STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP COURSES
AT THE UNDERGRADUATE LEVEL: CAN ONE INFORM THE
Sol. Ahiarah University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, PA.
This paper examines the teaching practices in the strategic management or business policy and the
entrepreneurship/small business courses based on a survey of undergraduate programs accredited by the American
Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. The conclusion is that although the two courses seem to share common
attributes in such respects as how they are taught and who teaches them, and their concern with the total enterprise,
they differ in one important respect: the one is widely adopted; the other is not. The paper suggests how to increase the
latter's adoption rate by learning from the former.
Although a long list of outstanding strategic management scholars also teach an entrepreneurship or small business
course(1), the literature appears to be silent on how some knowledge of the one can be usefully transferred to promote
the other. Historically, the strategic management/business policy (2) (SM/BP) course has enjoyed greater acceptance
than the one in entrepreneurship or small business (3) (E/SB). Based on a survey of AACSB member schools' core
curricula in 1967, Chen and Zale (1), reported that 31 of the 94 schools in their sample offered the SM/BP course. For
the same year, Vesper (7), reports that only eight schools in the U.S. offered a course in entrepreneurship. According to
him, "Entrepreneurship has been not only the original source of nearly all U.S. industry, but it continues to account for
a major share of the country's innovations. Small business serves not only as the source of companies that grow into
large businesses, but also as a major employment and economic productivity sector in its own right" (8). If
entrepreneurship/small business is this important, then the E/SB course ought to enjoy as widespread emphasis as the
SM/BP course in the undergraduate business curriculum, after all, according to Ronstadt (6), "prior research and
analysis by others indicates that entrepreneurship can be taught." What is going on with these two courses presently? If
SM/BP is still faring better, could it possibly inform E/SB on how to gain comparable acceptance in the business
PURPOSE AND JUSTIFICATION
The purpose of this paper is to examine the teaching practices in the SM/BP., and the "standard" E/SB, courses, at the
undergraduate programs accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). It will be
of primary interest to see if there are lessons that those who like to promote one (the E/SB course), can learn from the
other. Elements of teaching practices which will be looked at include: (a) the pervasiveness of each course (i.e., how
widely adopted each is); and (b) course teacher/teaching characteristics (i.e., teachers' specialization, status, and
department, and commonly used teaching methods). Also, some perspectives on the future of the courses will be
examined. If no instructive lessons can be identified from the examination, at least, the current practices would have
been described for interested parties.
This exercise is justified on the premise that these two courses can be validly compared: both are similarly concerned
with the whole (as opposed to a functional component) of the business enterprise, albeit from different perspectives.4
Also, both are uniquely related in a business curriculum: the "standard" entrepreneurship course seeks to teach how to
start a business, whereas the strategic management course seeks to teach how to survive in it. In either course, skills
required to deal with the problems or opportunities of the total business entity have to be emphasized. Despite their
commonalities and, in some respects, overlap (7), each is sufficiently unique and important that both should be equally
needed in the business curriculum. But, as noted earlier, SM/BP has, in the past enjoyed wider acceptance, and,
therefore, greater success in the (accredited) business programs. If it still enjoys a much greater acceptance in the
business curriculum today, then, there must be "success" lessons that it can provide to the entrepreneurship course.
In order to carry out the purpose stated above, a survey of the SM/BP and of the E/SB courses offered by AACSB-
accredited undergraduate schools was done. AACSB-accredited schools were selected because they have met stringent,
peer-reviewed, standards of excellence, and can be viewed as providing what is ideal in undergraduate business
education. The undergraduate schools were selected because it was believed that this is the level at which most
conventional students who would become entrepreneurs stop.
A questionnaire designed to elicit information on the three broad areas identified above (that is, the areas of
pervasiveness, characteristics, and future, of the courses) was mailed to all the deans of the 231 schools accredited by
the AACSB at the
undergraduate level as of July, 1987. Each dean was asked to route the questionnaire to the faculty member who taught
the entrepreneurship or small business course. One hundred and six of the 231 questionnaires were returned, for a
response rate of, approximately, 46 percent. Five of the returned questionnaires were, for the most part, unusable, and
34 respondents said that they do not offer any course in entrepreneurship/small business. The examination of the
teaching practices will thus be based on the responses of 105 schools, for SM/BP, and 67 schools for E/SB.
PERVASIVENESS OF EACH COURSE
The adoption rate of each course is analyzed on table 1, below.
Almost invariably, the responding schools offer an integrating, SM/BP course, whereas only an average of 63 percent
offer the E/SB course. Although the E/SD course has come a long way from 1967 when eight schools were known to
offer it in the U.S., it is still not nearly as widely adopted as the SM/BP.
SM/BP AND E/SB COURSES IN AACSB-ACCREDITED UNDERGRAD. PROGRAMS: COMPARISON OF
ADOPTION RATES IN RESPONDENT SCHOOLS
Number of AACSB- Accredit, Undergrad. Number Percent of Respondents Schools* of Offering Course On
RegionJuly 1987 ResponsesSM/BPE/SB
Northeast229100.0056.00 Middle Atlantic208100.0063.00 Southeast5019100.0063.00 Southwest3013100.0046.00
Mid-West5929100.0066.00 West482796.3070.00 Canada 2 1 100.00 100.00 Totals23110699.0063.00
*Compiled from "Members of the Accreditation Council (Accredited Schools) of the AACSB, 1986-87" -----------------
Can SM/BP inform E/SB on how to gain comparable acceptance? Perhaps. But E/SB would have to understand what
have critically contributed to SM/BP's success. Two of them stand out: (a) advocacy by influential scholars [notably,
Gordon and Howell (4); and Pierson et al., (5)] who championed the case for making SM/BP mandatory in the business
curriculum; and (b) the decision by the AACSB, in 1969, to include provision IV(e)5 in its statement of curriculum
standards and guidelines for accreditation. Although Eldredge and Galloway (3), have pointed out that provision IV(e)
"does not require that an AACSB accredited school teach a business policy course," the provision is, nevertheless,
generally believed to have provided a critical impetus for the widespread adoption of SM/BP.
In order for the E/SB course to gain an adoption rate comparable to SM/BP's, (a) there will have to be a convincing
advocacy for it, [possibly from the prominent scholars who teach it as well as SM/BP] not hesitation and self-doubt that
Dooley (2), expresses; (b) the AACSB must require that it be taught in its member schools; or member schools must
allow that it serve as a complement, an alternative or substitute to SM/BP - that it qualify as a capstone course.
How can one describe the typical teacher of each course? What can be learned from such description? The teacher
characteristics are described in detail on table 2, below. In most of the responding schools, the two courses are taught
by the same types of teachers - senior faculty whose teaching experience ranges from 5-10 years; from the management
or marketing departments. In some cases, the same teachers who specialized in strategic management are teaching the
SM/BP as well as the E/SB courses, however, teachers with specialization in entrepreneurship do not teach the SM/BP
Perhaps, because similar teachers are teaching both courses, there seems to be a significant relationship between the
methods used to teach them (see table 3, below). Can SM/BP inform E/SB in the area of teaching? Hardly.
However, proponents of E/SB may want to push for an entrepreneurship department that is separate from the
management and marketing. It is not realistic to expect the management or marketing department chairperson to
champion the cause of the entrepreneurship course.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ TABLE 2 TEACHER CHARACTERISTICS
(Multiple Responses Possible in Each Case)
Specialization Status Department
Response % Response % Response % SM/BP E/SB SM/BP E/SB SM/BP E/SD
Entrepr- eneurship - 46.67 Full Prof. 34.13 30.40 Mgmt. 74.59 65.00 SM/BP 84.78 18.67 Assoc. Prof. 27.96 30.40
Mktg. 14.75 17.50 Asst. Prof. 29.38 19.60 Finance & Acctg. 6.67 6.25 Other 15.60 34.87 Other 8.53 19.60 Other 3.99
N= 151 75 N= 211 102 N= 122 8
TABLE 3 METHODS OF TEACHING (Multiple responses possible Per Respondent)
Response % and Rank --------------------------------------------------------------- | SM/BP| | E/SB | | | % | Rank | % | Rank|
Combination of lectures & cases| 60.63| 1 | 52.53| 1 | Use of simulation & mgmt. games| 23.75| 2 | 2.02| 5 | Special
Projects incl. live | | | | | cases formulation | 9.38| 3 | 18.18| 2 | Oral and written presentations,| | | | | guest lectures | 2.51|
4 | 10.10| 3 | Business Plan preparation | 0.62| 6 | 10.10| 3 | Use of films and video | 0.62| 6 | 1.01| 6 | Other | 2.49| 5 |
6.06| 4 | | | | | | N = | 160| | 99 | | rs= | 0.625| | | | ---------------------------------------------------------------
TABLE 4 FUTURE CHANGES RESPONDENTS ANTICIPATE IN THE COURSES' CONTENT AND TEACHING
APPROACHES (Multiple responses possible)
Response % and Rank ------------------------------------------------------------- | SM/BP| | E/SB| | | % | Rank| % | Rank|
Focus on strategy formation | | | | | and implementation and | | | | | integration of SM and entrep.| 18.8 | 1 | 9.52| 4 |
Increased international consid-| | | | | eration | 17.42 | 2 | 11.90| 3 | More computer use for various | | | | | purposes | 13.64 |
3 | 23.81| 1 | More use of various types of | | | | | cases | 11.36 | 4 | 16.67| 2 | More use of various types of | | | | | speakers
and projects | .76 | 5 | 2.38| 5 | | | | | | n = | 81 | | 27 | | rs= | 0.10 | | | | | | | | | Unmatched responses | 38.64%| | 35.72%| |
Overall N = | 132 | | 42 | | --------------------------------------------------------------
The comparative future outlooks of the respondents in SM/BP and E/SB is shown on table 4 above. Although many of
the expectations match, it can be seen that the respondents in the two subject areas have assigned different rankings to
the different variables. For instance, whereas the top priority for the SM/BP group is to focus on strategy formulation
and implementation and the integration of strategic management and entrepreneurship, the highest priority item for the
E/SB group is to focus on the applications of the computer for various purposes. Can SM/BP inform E/SB with respect
to the future? Yes, E/SB can learn how to gain wider acceptance from the past of SM/BP. On the other hand, can E/SB
inform SM/BP? The respondents from SM/BP have answered this question in their top choice of anticipated future
changes in table 4 above.
Although SM/BP and E/SB seem to share common attributes in such respects as how they are taught and who teaches
them, and their concern with the total enterprise (and therefore their respective capacities to serve as integrating courses
in the business curriculum), it is seen that they differ in one important respect: the one is widely adopted; the other is
not. Because of the role of entrepreneurship in the economy, E/SB deserves greater acceptance than it has received
hitherto. One way to accomplish this end is to adopt the same tactics that have worked in securing the widespread
acceptance of SM/BP in AACSB-accredited undergraduate programs.
1. For example, each of these authors of a major book on strategic management, had his Entrepreneurship or Small
Business course description published in Karl Vesper's compendium entitled, Entrepreneurship Education 1985: James
B. Quinn, LaRue T. Hosmer, Charles Hofer, Robert T. Justis and Thomas Wheelen.
2. Strategic management is the latest name given to the business policy course that was originally conceived at the
Harvard Business School in 1911 (see, D.E. Schendel and C.W. Hofer, editors, Strategic Management: A New View of
Business Policy and Planning, (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown & Co., 1979).
3. Although education for entrepreneurship and education for small business are not necessarily the same, the two
terms are, nevertheless, used interchangeably in American universities. Thus, it is almost impossible to study one
without considering the other. (See G.H. Rice, "Education for Entrepreneurship in American Business Schools," in
Management Education and Development, (Spring, 1985), pp. 48-53.
4. That is, strategic management/business policy course looks at the total business enterprise from a top management
perspective, whereas the entrepreneurship/small business course looks at the total business enterprise from the
5. See Accreditation Council Policies, Procedures, and Standards, (St. Louis, Mo.: AACSB, 1987), p.29.
(1) Chen, G.K. C., and E.A. Zale, "The Business School Core Curriculum Eight Years After Gordon-Howell and
Pierson Reports," in Collegiate News and Views, (October, 1969).
(2) Dooley, A., "The Explosion of Interest in Entrepreneurship: Concern in tile Midst of Celebration," in J.J. Kao and
H.H. Stevenson, (eds. ), Entrepreneurship: What It Is and How To Teach It, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard bus. School,
(3) Eldredge, D.L., and R.F. Galloway, "Study of the Undergraduate Business Policy at AACSB-Accredited
Universities," in Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 4.
(4) Gordon, R.A., and J.E. Howell, Higher Education for Business, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959), pp.
(5) Pierson, F., et al. The Education of American Businessmen, (New York: McGrawHill Co., 1959).
(6) R. Ronstadt, "Training Potential Entrepreneurs," in J.J. Kao and H.H. Stevenson, (eds.), Entrepreneurship: What It
Is and How To Teach It, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Business School, 1983), p. 191.
(7) Vesper, K.H., Entrepreneurship Education 1985, (Wellesley, Mass.: Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Babson
(8) "Commentary," in D.E. Schendel and C.W. Hofer, (eds.), Strategic Management: A New View of Business Policy
and. Planning, (Boston., Mass.: Little, Brown & Co., 1979), p. 338.