Opportunity, Uncertainty and Effectuation concepts: a student onboarding experience through a board game ESHIP:NAvigating Uncertainty

Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit
Aarhus University

Taru Deva
Biosymfonix

Abstract
Entrepreneurship is a challenging subject to teach especially when you as an educator do not necessarily have all the answers. This can be both challenging for students or for You want to provide students with experiential and real-world learning, an increasingly accepted format for teaching entrepreneurship (Cooper and Gordon, 2004; Tete and Borges, 2014) albeit within the safety of a classroom, which is not always easy to achieve. Concepts such as effectuation (Sarasvathy, 2001), opportunity recognition (Shane and Venkataraman, 2004) and uncertainty handling (Shepherd & McMullen, 2006) are increasingly being recognized as essential concepts to teach students, not only entrepreneurship, but also future-skills and making them prepared in an uncertain future. However, these topics are still challenging to adopt for students who are used to prescription-based learning and goal-targeted learning behavior. This is where the board game ESHIP:Navigating Uncertainty comes in. It is designed to simulate some of the core elements of early-entrepreneurship in an intense two-hour simulation where you work together as a team and go through a subtly-embedded design-thinking process, all under conditions of uncertainty. The game is both collaborative and competitive at the same time and as much as you try and gain control, the game has enough moving parts that will remove that control from you. Thus, you can never eliminate uncertainty in the game but just try your level best to reduce it with the aim being to reduce it more than your peers in the time that you have been given. Furthermore, the setting is effectual right from start and the players have to look at the means and starting team as resources even before they know what problem they will solve. Secondly uncertainty is introduced in the game right from the start in terms of instructional uncertainty as very minimal instructions are provided and the students have to figure out the rules of the game and the process by themselves without support from the educator. The automatic response of an educator when a student asks a “how” question in the game is “I don’t know – you have to figure it out”. This change in power structure in the classroom is also an embedded learning goal that emphasizes the role of the educator as a facilitator of a process but not an expert or a “teacher” in the classic sense of the word.
The workshop will allow both novice and experienced educators an opportunity to experience this innovative intervention from a student's perspective. While, the gameplay is technically a 90 to 120 min game - in the interest to elicit deeper reflections and discussion, the workshop will be designed as 60 min game play session and a 30 min roundtable debrief and discussion. Participants will be grouped in teams of 3-5 individuals as one team and this team will work collaboratively in trying to create a convincing entrepreneurial story as well as trying to reduce uncertainty. Just as is intended in the classroom, the educators will not be given any instructions on how to play the game and instead have to figure it out with their own team mates.