EMBRACE project published review on CSE Programmes in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

-Dr. Sergio Botelho Jr.

This report, prepared as part of the European Corporate Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) curriculum (EMBRACE) project, reviews CSE Programmes in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Europe and other relevant jurisdictions. This report is the first step in the first step in the development of a multidisciplinary European Corporate Social Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ECSEC) to be incorporated into HEI education programmes across all disciplines. The output of such a curriculum will be more rounded, employable graduates capable of contributing immediately to the intrapreneurial and social responsibilities of their employers.

The review of CSE activities in HEIs was based on methodological guidelines (see Annex 1) developed to facilitate the EMBRACE project partners perform the review. In total, HEIs in 34 countries were reviewed. With a more in depth review being performed in the 9 EMBRACE project partner countries (Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain and The Netherlands). The in depth review involved 63 interviews (seven in each project partner country) and 19 focus groups with relevant stakeholders (a minimum of two focus groups per project partner country).

Based on this considerable undertaking, the findings suggest that CSE is still a relatively new concept at its preliminary stages as only 2 (Belgium and Ireland) of the 602 HEIs reviewed offer CSE specific courses. There is, however, an abundant amount of CSE related courses offered such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, community engagement and social awareness (in total 1,129 were identified). Invariably these courses are offered by Schools of Business at both postgraduate and undergraduate levels. Based on the review of the  602 HEIs, the majority (54.3%) of the CSE related programmes were delivered at postgraduate level; 41.9% of the programmes were presented at undergraduate level and only 3.8% were in the category of Life Long Learning (LLL) [the category usually associated with industry related courses/programmes]. The most common CSE related course is entrepreneurship followed by social entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The overall level of CSE awareness in the 34 countries reviewed is very low. However, there is a lot of awareness as regards CSE related activities in each country, such as social enterprise, entrepreneurship, and corporate social responsibility, but very little specific to Corporate Social Entrepreneurship. Twenty-one of the 34 countries reviewed have CSE related policies but none have CSE specific policies.

Our findings reaffirm the need for the development of the European Corporate Social Entrepreneurship curriculum (EMBRACE) and EMBRACEedulab.

Because of the newness of the CSE concept and the overall lack of awareness of the specifics of CSE, developing and teaching CSE courses is more challenging than teaching established business topics. Therefore innovative teaching and learning methods will be required. These courses should be hands-on and implemented in collaboration with industry employing methodologies such as learning-by-doing, gamification and working on mini projects so that students can understand the ‘real business picture’ with all its aspects. The training should be experiential with organisations creating and implementing CSE projects as part of the CSE training process.

Based on the review, the EMBRACE project team has redefined its definition of CSE to be:

Corporate Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) is ‘a way of doing business’ so that all staff in any given organisation (public, private or third sector) are fully aware of their role, responsibility and contribution to the sustainable socioeconomic enhancement of their organisations and the communities in which they live and work. The CSE process includes: creating an enabling entrepreneurial environment, fostering corporate social intrapreneurship, amplifying corporate purpose and values as well as building strategic alliances in order to solve economic and social problems and to promote the success of emerging innovative business strategies.

The Future is Social

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