In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership
Cited as: Teasdale, S., Steiner, A., & Roy, M. J. (2020). Wrestling with wicked problems? The value of business plan competitions to social entrepreneurship education. Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership , 10(3).


In this work we present an account of our experiences with a group of graduate students studying social entrepreneurship at Master’s level. They participated in a prominent international business plan competition which challenges students to come up with a solution to a significant real world problem. We facilitated the process of their involvement with the support of a visiting colleague to identify what the students thought was a workable solution. Our students learned about the nature, scale and complexity of so-called ‘wicked problems’ and potential solutions. We consider that practice-based co-curricular activities are not an easy option for faculty: that students need extensive support, and while they can gain significant learning from such experiences, we consider that learning outcomes are best enhanced through students working closely with those with a deep, contextualised familiarity of context in order to co-produce integrated solutions.


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1. Many university courses may be enhanced by involvement in social entrepreneurship business plan competitions.

2. Relatedly, business schools may also gain from their students working closely with “real people” in community groups to understand the complexity involved in dealing with wicked problems.

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