We Need To Talk About Competitions: A theoretically flawed EE intervention?

Catherine Brentnall, Iván Diego Rodríguez, Nigel Culkin

Research output: Working paper

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Why are competitions offered up to educators as a model of good practice and an effective entrepreneurship education (EE) method? Why are they prescribed, dispensed and consumed regardless of differences in social, cultural and economic context? What might the unintended consequences be for students, teachers and wider society? Perhaps, like effects observed in competitive sport, winners experience a sense of achievement and motivation to continue, but losers feel de-motivated and disengage. Whilst this might fulfil a type of 'sorting', where unrealistic participants are put off start-up, is this still legitimate when such experiences happen in primary and secondary education, as much EE policy now recommends? These authors adopt a realist logic of enquiry to isolate and test the theories which underpin the use of competitions to better understand whether the 'taken for granted' assumptions and benefits that underlie their adoption and roll-out to all ages are justified. The aim is to extend the evidence based conversation beyond 'what works?', and towards 'what works, for whom and in what circumstances?' The results shed new light on entrepreneurship education's most recognisable format - the competition - to provide a richer, more sophisticated and critically enlightened picture to those promoting and practicing its use.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Hertfordshire
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2017

Publication series

NameUH Business School Working Papers
PublisherUniversity of Hertfordshire


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Enterprise
  • Education
  • Competitions


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