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PDW: When educators play second-fiddle to students

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ESCP Europe, Berlin Campus

Heubnerweg 8-10

D-14059 Berlin

Germany

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When educators play second-fiddle to students - Simulating Entrepreneurial Identity building and uncertainty navigation through a board-game experience in the classroom

Organiser: Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit, Aarhus University, Denmark

Entrepreneurship is a challenging subject to teach especially when you as an educator do not necessarily have all the answers. This can be both challenging for students and you. You want to provide students with experiential and real-world learning, an increasingly accepted format for teaching entrepreneurship (Cooper and Gordon, 2004; Tete and Borges, 2014) albeit within the safety of a classroom, which is not always easy to achieve. Concepts such as effectuation (Sarasvathy, 2001), widely adopted by many institutions, due to its tangible nature and relatively low-entry barrier approach to entrepreneurship through means-driven processes, it can still be challenging to adopt for students who are used to prescription-based learning and goal-targeted learning behavior. This is where the board game ESHIP: Navigating Uncertainty comes in. It is designed to simulate some of the core elements of early-entrepreneurship in an intense two-hour simulation where you work together as a team and go through a subtly-embedded design-thinking process, all under conditions of uncertainty.

The game is technically a 90 to 120 min game in which it is requested that the educators take on the hats of the students they try to teach entrepreneurship, i.e. they will have to “imagine” themselves as students in an entrepreneurship course. They will then be grouped in teams of 3-5 individuals as one team and this team will work collaboratively in trying to create a convincing entrepreneurial story as well as trying to reduce uncertainty. The game is both collaborative and competitive at the same time and as much as you try and gain control, the game has enough moving parts that will remove that control from you. Thus, you can never eliminate uncertainty in the game but just try your level best to reduce it with the aim being to reduce it more than your peers in the time that you have been given.

PDW format:

Roundtable team interaction and discussion format (in a 75 + 15 + 25 min structure).

The game is technically a 90 to 120 min game in which it is requested that the educators take on the hats of the students they try to teach entrepreneurship, i.e. they will have to “imagine” themselves as students in an entrepreneurship course. They will then be grouped in teams of 3-5 individuals as one team and this team will work collaboratively in trying to create a convincing entrepreneurial story as well as trying to reduce uncertainty. Just as is intended in the classroom, the educators will not be given any instructions on how to play the game and instead have to figure it out with their own team mates. Depending on the number of participants, there will be various teams formed – and the teams will be competing against each other to race to lower their uncertainty. The facilitated gameplay will ensure that we wrap up the game play in 75-90 minutes. The remaining 30-40 minutes will be divided into a 15 minute post-game debrief with example student reflections thrown in and contrasted against educator reflections and the last remaining time will be an open feedback session in which we will discuss the use of such interventions in the classroom and what they can and cannot achieve.

Target audience and takeaways:

While the game has been explicitly designed for university level students that are interested in learning Entrepreneurship, basically anyone with advanced reading and comprehension skills can play the game. The target audience in this PDW will be educators and potentially also students who might be attending the conference.

The PDW aims to offer the following takeaways:

  1. To allow for exploration of Entrepreneurial Identities via active role-play within the safety of “play” (Thrane and Basaiawmoit, 2019).

  2. To allow players to experience an embedded “Design Thinking” process without the players requiring any pre-game knowledge of "Design Thinking" or of Entrepreneurship. The teams go through a process from opportunity-search to value-creation under conditions of Uncertainty.

  3. To understand the concept of "Entrepreneurial Uncertainty" and distinguish it from "Risk".

  4. Experience effectual logic by having to look at available means and information before being able to plan or take any decisions as well as reacting to the outcome of decisions exploiting the lemonade principle to make the best out of the dice-rolls that you get.

  5. To stimulate discussions, argument positioning, negotiation, and consensus building within a team that acts as a great template for team building and effective collaboration.

  6. To simulate decision-making and leadership training under constraints of uncertainty.

  7. The game also teaches that action is better than inaction and that there is no one "path" to success, though decision-making can sometimes be "path-dependent".

  8. How can one integrate some key scholarly work in Entrepreneurship such as those from Shepherd & McMullen, Shane & Venkataraman, Sarasvathy, Knight, Schumpeter, Drucker, etc. within a game-frame but yet not overload students with it but generate enough curiosity that they want to read about these texts.

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ESCP Europe, Berlin Campus

Heubnerweg 8-10

D-14059 Berlin

Germany

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