This paper is written to partially answer a question the author is seeking to better understand. The question asked is, “How can institutions of higher learning become more innovative internally while also providing a higher quality product, educational capital, in the form of employees to corporations upon their graduation?” The author will look at challenges facing institutions, as well as look at a framework for studying the administrative functions within institutional foundations. Additionally, the author discusses how entrepreneurial theory has a place in the higher learning environment so that these institutions can become better educational partners and collaborate with corporations to create this higher educational capital.
Organizational Leadership Analysis
Leadership in education is being scrutinized from all angles today. The reasons are simple, the economic climate is forcing critical analysis as to how our educational institutions perform and deliver at the peak levels required in today’s competitive business environment. Additionally, the advancement of technology is forcing learning institutions to rethink their educational approaches and applications. (Eyal, Ori, and Ronit Kark, 2004)
These are not the only challenges that learning institutions are facing; reduced budgets are cutting programs, eliminating support staff and, overall, reducing the quality of education that students are receiving. The question being asked of these institutions is what are they doing about these changes and how can they best position themselves in the future.
Though change is necessary in all learning institutions and discussions will include learning institutions as a whole, my focus of this paper is on institutions of higher learning and the incorporation of entrepreneurship as a leadership theory for innovation and change.
For as long as can be remembered, school principals and the administrative staff have ruled over their domains with much of the scrutiny and attention being directed at teachers and the results they achieved in the classroom. Naturally, looking at student results is an important measure of success but, this is also changing. What we are seeing today are these once domicile functions at the supervisory level being scrutinized and reviewed and questions are being asked, “Does it make more sense to home in on learning-focused leadership than it does to talk about supervising and evaluating teachers.” (Journal of Staff Development, 2006)
The roots of education in this country have been built from organizational institutional ideas and from discussion within the walls of bureaucratic pillars of management. Joseph Murphy has developed a model, called the 5E model that brings into focus different ways of looking at administrative functions within today’s educational system. There are five different areas associated with this model. They are: Empowerment-oriented, entrepreneurially focused, environmentally sensitive, educationally grounded and ethically anchored (Journal of Staff Development, 2006).
Research conducted on leadership theories and practices has primarily been focused at the corporate level, and through this research, we are gaining a far better understanding of disciplinary balance inherent of the theories. Consequently, and as a result, studies are broadening to include industries that haven’t yet historically been researched. We are seeing a change and the focus is squarely targeting learning institutions. Through his 5E model, Joseph Murphy is bringing his research into educational institutions to learn how they work, function and lead. One facet of this research is directed toward learning how to coach administrators becoming better leaders instead of the historical idea of being task mongers. One of the principle areas of research in this model is how to incorporate entrepreneurship into the halls of these institutions.
What is entrepreneurship and how is it useful to us in trying to build its existence into the framework of learning institutions and not only as a means of subject matter in the classroom? How can we engage the supervisory staff and administrators to become more entrepreneurial?
First, the idea of entrepreneurship is associated with the thought of profitability. If this is how it’s thought of, why should it be considered a viable theory within the realm of education leadership? Schumpeter (1934), asserted that the primary function of entrepreneurship is innovation. Through this discussion, we’ll explore and attempt to explain why innovation in our institutions of higher learning is an important concept today.
The long history and, consequently, the perspective society have had on the functions of educational administrators and the profitability ideas associated with entrepreneurship do not seem to mix. (Scott, S., & Venkataraman, S., 2006)
However, the importance of learning more about entrepreneurship should give us the knowledge to understand how this leadership theory should be incorporated into higher education; not just the classroom, but the cognitive development of our institutional leaders. This comment by Schumpeter (1934) provides us how one of the many different sources of change in a capitalist society occur, “entrepreneurially driven innovation in products and processes is a crucial engine driving the change process.”
The ‘Change Process’
The change process seems to be important ideal learning organizations are wrestling with today. The struggle to learn how to be more competitive and even more ‘business-like’, yet not interfere with the mission of education first. Supervisory tasked administrators are beginning to understand that they must deliver not only improved student results but to also try and change the culture and invigorate the administrative rank and file to think more entrepreneurially.
Merging Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Corporate entrepreneurship has been recognized as an organization-level phenomenon (Zahra, Karutko, & Jennings, 1999). The advent of corporate entrepreneurship has resulted in numerous factors, but some that have been pointed out are job satisfaction, rewards, and corporate culture or climate. We’ve seen several very successful ideas become corporate behemoths within the past decade, namely Facebook and Google. Both have become successful as a result of entrepreneurial strategies as a base of their success. This success has permeated the corporate cultures of these companies to the point where entrepreneurial strategies have been implemented to become part of the daily routine of those that work in these companies.
Research has shown that transformational and charismatic leadership theories are characteristically linked by natural tendency to organizational and entrepreneurial ideals. (Zahra, Karutko, & Jennings, 1999). Both of these theories are identified with change and innovation. One more so than the other but together, both offers institutions of higher learning a place to begin their explorations.
Merging Entrepreneurship and Leadership into Higher Learning
“What I’m looking for is to create a culture here in the state of Hawaii that exceeds everyone else in terms of helping our students become some of the most nimble and entrepreneurial in the world.” (University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood) The vision of this direction is to collaborate with business and venture capital to find innovative avenues to develop new approaches to learning.
Why do institutions of higher learning need to become more entrepreneurial? Universities must consider themselves as an integral part of the future job market. The primary function of a university is to create educational capital, (Jan. 15, 2011) this capital develops future business leaders. Thus, creating an entrepreneurial spirit within the educational environment will enable job creation as a function of this educational capital. This can be done in a number of avenues. Collaboration and partnerships with successful corporations, incubators within the university itself and internships and placement support for our graduates.
UW Sustainable Academic Business Plan
The University of Washington has developed a two-year plan to address a sustainable academic business plan to help the university through these difficult times. This isn’t a new plan that they have recently developed, but they have incorporated some elements to address the difficult issues facing the university today. Some of these issues are the same as have already been commented on in this paper. Our focus here will be on innovation. The University has launched a technology startup incubator. (Reseth, Bob, and Sandra Hines, 2012) President Michael Young hopes that the incubator will double the number of startups, from 10 today to 20 within three years.
This initiative is designed to foster a renewed interest in the entrepreneurial spirit within the University. This incubator program is being developed from a position of strength and collaboration with local businesses. The idea is to leverage local business talent with research that has made the University the second highest nationally funded research school in the country.
Broadening the Reach of Higher Learning
Another problem we’ve identified is the advancement in technology and how this is shaping the learning environment. Of the nearly 15 million full time students attending higher learning in the United States, many of them will soon be joining the 139 million who are employed. (Elliott Masie, 2012) The two, corporate learning centers and institutions of higher learning, are nearly polar opposites in their approach to education. Certainly, the structural leadership forces inherent in entrepreneurship theory would seek out and identify this as a huge opportunity to collaborate. And, this is starting to happen.
Large corporations and their counter parts, higher learning organizations, are collaborating through third party centers, such as the MAISE center where consortiums on both sides of the learning environment are exploring what it will take to incorporate learning across the platform. What they are finding is that information technology (IT) departments seem a natural fit through distance learning channels.
The opportunity for deeper collaboration between the corporate and the college learning worlds can have an impact on the revenue and reach of higher learning institutions. (Elliott Masie, 2012) This illuminates an objective that higher learning organizations have a need to fulfill. The opportunities being explored are:
- Blended Classrooms
- Incorporating the corporate video capabilities to the classroom
- Coaches and Mentors
- Education is quickly turning to more individualized learning vs. classroom learning
- Collaborative, Multi-site courses
- With the advent of corporate globalization efforts, organizations of higher learning can offer students from multiple corporate locations and multiple colleagues from other colleges.
Delivering Upon the Promise
We’ve asked the ‘why’ question. Why should organizations of higher learning make this leap to incorporate entrepreneur leadership within their ranks? And we’ve created a compelling understanding of the needs behind this idea: competitiveness. Competitiveness and the deliverables being ask by corporations to their counter parts in education are happening all across this nation. The ability for organizations of higher learning to deliver graduates that fit the needs of corporations today is critical.
As corporations struggle and adjust to the needs of today’s market forces, education of higher learning must also meet these same needs.
From what we have seen in this research, institutions of higher learning are struggling with change that is being pushed upon them from market forces. Much of this push has come from the recent economic spiral, but we are also seeing that there is a fundamental shift in how institutions of higher learning are perceived as a community partner. Their product, the student, must be ready to enter the working environment and fulfill the promise to society of supplying leaders of tomorrow for the great good.
Change in these respects are important and the driver of these changes, entrepreneurship theory for innovation and change, will be how institutions of high learning initiate and incorporate these drivers within their strategic plans.
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