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"Making an impact": a profile of a business planning competition in a university

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Purpose ‐ This paper aims to explore the issues experienced in the delivery of a business challenge to a cohort of business undergraduate students at the University of Glamorgan. The challenge involved initiating and running a "real" business and returning a profit within a week. The students worked in groups of up to eight and were given start up capital. The paper seeks to evaluate the impact of the business challenge in terms of changing entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviour, and to examine the skills competencies acquired by the individual students. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study employs a mixed method approach to examine the respondent experience. The basis of the investigation involved a semi-structured questionnaire undertaken on completion of the challenge. In total, in excess of 50 students completed the research instrument. The questionnaire enabled the authors to quantitatively explore the overall impact of the business challenge by student age and gender. In addition, the semi structured design enabled the authors to explore the qualitative "rich data" of individual student experience based on their reflections. Findings ‐ The findings reveal a positive impact in terms of enhanced attitudes towards the attainability and attractiveness of an entrepreneurial career. The findings reveal that the business challenge provided the students with a significant enhancement in generic enterprise skills including team working, leadership, communication and specific business skills such as sales and marketing behaviour. The students valued the opportunity and personal responsibility offered by the business challenge to apply their theoretical knowledge in a real world context. Several individuals reported that the positive experience with their business venture meant that they wished to continue the business alongside their graduate studies. Originality/value ‐ The paper contributes to a limited literature in assessing the impact and benefit of business challenges. It will be of value to enterprise education providers in organising and planning such activities.
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Keywords: Business challenge; Business environment; Education; Enterprise; Entrepreneurship; Higher education; Students; United Kingdom

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-11-22

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