Wrestling With Wicked Problems? The Value of Business Plan Competitions to Social Entrepreneurship Education





social entrepreneurship, business plan competitions, experiential learning


In this work, we present an account of our experiences with a group of graduate students studying social entrepreneurship at the master’s level. They participated in a prominent international business plan competition that 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 cocurricular activities are not an easy option for faculty and that students need extensive support. Although students can gain significant learning from such experiences, we consider that learning outcomes are best enhanced through students working closely with those with a deep, contextualized familiarity of context to coproduce integrated solutions.

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Author Biographies

Simon Teasdale, Glasgow Caledonian University

Assistant Vice Principal Global Challenges Research and Professor of Public Policy and Organisations

Artur Steiner, Glasgow Caledonian University

Reader in Social Entrepreneurship, 

Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health

Michael James Roy, Glasgow Caledonian University

Professor of Economic Sociology and Social Policy,
Glasgow School for Business and Society