University of Hertfordshire

  • Nigel Culkin
  • Catherine Brentnall
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Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustry and Higher Education
Journal publication date1 Dec 2018
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Dec 2018


Competitions are a highly visible practice and an enthusiastically promoted model in entrepreneurship education policy. However, studies on the effects of competitive pedagogy in entrepreneurship education are notable by their absence. For example, a recent meta-analysis of entrepreneurship education literature (Bae et al., 2014) revealed that of all the moderating factors utilised by researchers - economic status, gender, education of parents etc. - no study, at any level of education could be found that investigated the effects of an intervention controlling for ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Within this context, this authoring team aims to initiate an exploration of competitions in entrepreneurship education which spans the boundaries of rigour and relevance, the practical and academic (Gulati, 2007). The call for more research about the ‘extremes’ of practice (McKelvey, 2006), has been tackled by utilising the research philosophy and first principles of Realist Evaluation (Pawson and Tilley, 1997, Pawson and Tilley, 2004). European policy and guidance over a ten-year period has been reviewed in order to make explicit the taken-for-granted assumptions which underpin the promotion and use of competitions in entrepreneurship education and policy. This process identifies that competitions are described as: effective for motivating, rewarding and inspiring learners; an effective way to develop the entrepreneurial skills of learners and, finally, are an appropriate pedagogy for classroom teachers to embed entrepreneurship in education. The authors question the widespread endorsement of this ‘good end’ of the practice extreme by shining a light on the ‘bad end’, and drawing on theory and literature from education, psychology and social research which suggests that the deleterious effects of competitions for some mean that the uncritical recommendations and universal application observed in entrepreneurship policy and practice should be refined.


Industry & Higher Education Special issue vol. xx (x) 2018 Co-edited by Dr David Higgins, Professor Paul Jones, Professor Laura Galloway and Professor Pauric McGowan.

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