Chapter Listing | Return to 1997 Topical Index


DEVELOPMENT OF THE FIELD

A course in entrepreneurship was first offered at the Harvard Business School in 1947 by Myles Mace. Peter Drucker started a course in entrepreneurship and innovation at New York University in 1953. Subsequently, there were Harvard casebooks by Lynn Bollinger and John Day and by Paul Donham and John Day. However, it was many years before most business schools began to offer courses in the field. In 1958 the Small Business Administration began a major research program lasting for three years, in which research funds were allocated equally across states to support research on small business. There were 98 studies in the first year alone and the resulting publications were called the Small Business Research Series. One of the most visible studies to emerge from this program was the book by Collins and Moore, The Organization Makers: A Behavioral Study of Independent Entrepreneurs. Another frequently referenced study from this program was The First Two Years: Problems of Small Firm Growth and Survival by Mayer and Goldstein.

The National Council for Small Business Management Development grew from a conference on small business management development held at the University of Colorado in 1956. Some of the early leaders were Wilford White, then Chief of the Managerial Assistance Division of the Small Business Administration, and Wendell Metcalf, also of the SBA. The organization had a strong orientation toward small business education and included many university educators involved in service or outreach programs. Government officials and small business owners were also involved. Starting in 1962 the Council presented its first Outstanding Businessman Award. The name of the organization was changed to the International Council for Small Business in 1977. Subsequently international affiliates were formed, with the Canadian division starting about 1979.

The first academic conference on entrepreneurship research was at Purdue in the fall of 1970. It was cosponsored by The Center for Venture Management, a recently established foundation headed by John Komives. The foundation was intended to foster research and education on entrepreneurship. This conference brought together 12 researchers to report upon their work on technical entrepreneurship. This was the first time a group of active researchers had been able to get together to present their findings and to question each other about their work. Some of the researchers were Ed Roberts, who reported upon his work on spin-offs from M.I.T., Al Shapero, who presented work done at Stanford Research Institute and the University of Texas, Arnold Cooper, who had been doing work in Silicon Valley, and Karl Vesper, who reported upon university approaches to stimulating entrepreneurship.

Several important developments occurred in the early 1970s. At the Academy of Management annual meeting in 1974, Karl Vesper held an organizational meeting of those interested in forming an Interest Group on Entrepreneurship. The Interest Group was formed as a part of the Division of Business Policy and Planning. However, it remained rather small throughout the 1970s. For instance, in 1977 there were only about 12 papers submitted for the program on entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneurship Interest Group did not achieve full status as the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management until 1987, when Jack Pearce was chair. Another important development was the Small Business Institute Program (SBI), first started in 1972 at Texas Tech University, with the involvement of Robert Justis and Dean Jack Steele. This program, sponsored by the Small Business Administration, provided support to universities which set up courses in which students consulted with small businesses. This program got off to a fast start and by 1976 there were 398 universities participating. The professional organization, SBIDA, was organized to bring involved faculty together. Although SBA no longer funds this program, variations of it can be found on many campuses and SBIDA continues as an organization binding together faculty who share interests in students learning through consulting.

In 1973, the "First International Conference on Entrepreneurship Research" was held in Toronto, Canada. It attracted a broad set of researchers, including Jeff Timmons, then at Boston University, George Kozmetsky, who had come from industry to become dean at the University of Texas, Wayne Broehl, Jr. of Dartmouth, Dwight Baumann of Carnegie-Mellon, and David Brophy of Michigan. At that time there was an effort to organize a new professional organization, SERA, The Society for Entrepreneurship Research & Application. There was a mailing list of 42 members, and the hope was that it would lead to regular meetings and a newsletter. However, it never progressed very far. Possibly the name, SERA, was too suggestive of the then popular song, "Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be."

A major gathering occurred in Cincinnati in 1975, the International Symposium of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (ISEED). This was a very ambitious undertaking, with an international steering committee and many sponsors and cooperating agencies. It involved more than 230 participants from all over the world who gathered for the four-day conference. Many were with government agencies which sponsored programs to encourage entrepreneurship and they reported about what had worked and had not worked in their countries. Much of the organizational work was done by Jeffrey Susbauer. The four plenary speakers were Al Shapero of the University of Texas, Patrick Lyles of Harvard and two people from consulting organizations, David Berlew of Development Research Associates and Joseph Stepanek of Boulder, Colorado.

The first of the "State of the Art" conferences was held at Baylor in 1980. A number of researchers, including Jack Hornaday, William Wetzel, O. J. Krasner, Israel Kirzner, Albert Bruno, and Yvonne Gasse, were asked to summarize what was known and not known on particular topics. The resulting book, Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship, edited by Calvin Kent, Don Sexton, and Karl Vesper, was the first of what have become four such volumes. The subsequent conferences were organized primarily by Don Sexton and were held about every five years, with the later locations being Austin, Chapel Hill, and Kansas City.

In regard to education, early courses often focused upon small business management. A number of authors developed textbooks, including H. Broom, Robert Buchele, Clifford Baumback, Justin Longenecker, Leon Megginson, Dan Steinhoff, and Curtis Tate. Karl Vesper began surveying the offerings of entrepreneurship courses at different schools, starting in 1971. He looked at kind and number of courses, course compositions, class compositions, pedagogical experiments, and extracurricular activities for students. He reported in Entrepreneurship Education 1993 that there had been a remarkable growth in the number of schools with entrepreneurship courses. There were fewer than 10 schools with such courses in 1967, growing to 30 in 1970, to about 105 in 1975, to about 173 in 1980, to 250 in 1984, to 370 in 1993. One development disclosed by these surveys was the growing number of schools offering sets of courses and entrepreneurship majors. The University of Southern California, led by Herb Kierulff, and Leonard Davis, had been the first to offer an entrepreneurship major at the MBA level in 1972. They had a 20 unit entrepreneurial program, an advisory council on curriculum made up of experienced entrepreneurs, and a program in which venture capitalists assisted students with their plans. Babson was, we believe, the first to offer an undergraduate major, starting in 1968. Later, Baylor University, the University of Calgary, and Wichita State were among those who led the way in offering sets of courses. By the time that Success Magazine began to recognize outstanding entrepreneurship programs in an annual issue in the early 1990s, universities had to have at least three courses at the graduate level to be eligible for recognition.


Top of page | Chapter Listing | Return to 1997 Topical Index


1997 Babson College All Rights Reserved
Last Updated 03/19/98