Inderscience Publishers

Entrepreneurs in learning networks: problems, opportunities and implications for program design

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Critiques of most existing competence development programs with respect to small firms is that they are not fully relevant to the firms; entrepreneurs in small firms need alternatives. An experiential learning approach, based on collaborative learning and work-related problems in learning networks, may fit the needs of the entrepreneur better than traditional methods based on passive theory-centred lecturing. The distinctive nature of learning in small firms and the appropriateness of programs to support learning and development in those firms are largely unexplored from an empirical perspective. The purpose of this article is to suggest how different conditions related to learning networks may facilitate an appropriate learning situation for entrepreneurs. The findings show that for entrepreneurs to gain useful learning in learning networks, the management of the network should be demanding and various constructs in the learning situation must be considered.

Keywords: competence development programmes, small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, learning networks, entrepreneurs, program design, experiential learning, collaborative learning, work-related problems, passive learning, theory-centred lecturing, entrepreneurial education, entrepreneurship

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