Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The hard skills training was built upon a currently existing hard skills-based curricula developed by the ILO called Know About Business (KAB), which has been run in over 40 countries worldwide. The training focused on the following standard modules for business skills training:
• Financial literacy, including calculating interest rates and general business numeracy.
• Developing a business proposal. By the end of the course, the students are expected to have completed a basic business plan. The business plan will serve as a blue print for the students in their business and help in accessing finance.
• The role of budgeting in the successful development and implementation of a business.
• How to calculate and keeping track of expenses, revenue and profits.
• The importance of re-investment in the business for business growth.
• How to draft a marketing strategy.
• Methods for planning staff needs.
• How to cost goods and services effectively.
• Optimal legal form of the business including process for getting licenses and the permits.
• How to assess of the environmental impact of planned business.
• Forecasting finances.
• A business game that simulates business operations to experiment on the challenges of managing small businesses with product portfolios in different markets.
The soft skills curriculum was developed by the researchers for the purpose of this experiment, using an existing curriculum from the NGO Educate! as a base model. For 100 years psychologists have theorized that there is much more to human intelligence than “hard” or quantitative intelligence. The concept of “Social Intelligence” began to gain traction in the 1920’s with E. L. Thorndike’s seminal work. Since then, all models and theoretical treatments of emotional and social intelligence factor out to a few fundamental underlying dimensions (Riggio, 1986 ; Salovey & Mayer, 1990 ; Thorndike, 1920 , 1936 ). These dimensions all describe (1) the ability to appraise one’s own and others’ emotional and motivational states, and (2) the ability to regulate or control these states within oneself and in others and (3) use such emotional and motivational information toward advancing an a social goal such as to influence, persuade, transact effectively, communicate more clearly, or befriend more quickly.
The training was designed to focus on a suite of trainable skills harvested from psychology, sociology, and economics (named “soft skills” by the business community) which predict facets of entrepreneurial success (e.g., Moss & Tilly, 1996 ; Nickson, Warhurst, Commander, Hurrell, & Cullen, 2011 ). Many scientists and practitioners have argued strongly for the increased reliance upon soft-skills training and education in business education (e.g., Burke, Drasgow, & Edwards, 2004 ; Navarro, 2008 ). For example, having a particular structure to one’s social network leads to an increased likelihood of having entrepreneurial success (Stuart & Sorenson, 2005 ). Thus, knowing how to build and structure one’s social network is of utmost importance to increasing the likelihood of entrepreneurial success.
The four most critical and predictive dimensions of “soft skills” build on each other and are taught in the following order: (1) Building and Maintaining Social Networks, (2) How to Perceive and Listen to Others, (3) How to Influence & Persuade Others, and (4) How to Effectively and Creatively Negotiate. The last module, negotiation, pulls together many of the skills taught over the course of the teaching term. Below is a brief background and pedagogical plan for each. The content for these 4 modules will be taken directly from the YEP and Educate! Curricula and supplemented and edited to reflect the most cutting edge insights from business education. Materials will be grounded deeply by the cultural fabric understood by Ugandan youth by a hired teaching assistant who has had extensive experience with the Ugandan culture and teaching in Uganda.
In addition, special attention was paid to social networks. To be a successful entrepreneur, the people you know are as important as your idea is (Stuart & Sorenson, 2005 ). In addition, it is not only who you know, but who THEY know. Below are diagrams of two kinds of networks. The diagram on the left (Panel A) depicts an “embedded network.” Families, classes, and small work-groups are described by embeddedness: everyone knows everyone fairly well. This kind of network is not particularly effective for launching an entrepreneurial idea because these networks are small, informationally and resource redundant, and you can’t “buy” others’ help by introducing them to anyone (i.e., “brokering” between otherwise unconnected networks). In contrast, the network on the right (Panel B) depicts what has come to be known as an “entrepreneurial network.” In this kind of network, you know many different kinds of KEY people who have access to whole other networks non-redundant with your own. Principles taught in this module include: (1) what does your current social network look like? (2) What kinds of additions do you need to your network? (3) How to add different kinds of people to your network. (4) How to broker connections between people (and their associated networks). (5) Strategies to maintain contacts after they have been established. (6) How to call on people when you need them. (7) What is the difference between weak and strong social network connections?
One of the common assumptions made about influence is that “some people are just good at it.” This is incorrect. One of the common assumptions made about persuasion is that only some people can be persuaded—this is also incorrect. This module teaches Cialdini’s (e.g., Cialdini, 2001 ) 6 building blocks of persuasion: (1) reciprocation, (2) liking, (3) commitment and consistency, (4) authority, (5) social proof, and (6) scarcity. Students are given in-class and out-of-class assignments in which they will practice their influence and persuasion skills to: (a) persuade others of their point of view on an issue, (b) sell goods, and (c) trade upwards from a small object to as valuable an object as possible in 5 trades (the winner of this context receives a prize and public recognition).
The ability to read other people and know their intentions, goals, preferences and emotions is a skill that helps you manage them, persuade them, coordinate them, manage conflicts between them, know when they are lying to you, and enlist them toward your vision and goals. At the most basic level, watching and listening to others and what they say, is a critical skill that most of us do not have the tendency to do. This is a skill which can be taught through practice in a classroom setting with materials (e.g., photos of African faces expressing different emotions) train the accurate detection of emotions such as: happiness and sadness. Antecedents and consequences of emotional experiences are discussed at length. Further, “people reading” skills are also taught in dyads (people working with each other to predict and then test how each other is feeling in various role-plays and improvisations) and in small groups. Role plays to practice listening skills will be used to exercise the critical point that a person cannot know what another person wants or feels unless you stop your own mind from thinking what you want and feel and listen to and think about their wants and feelings.
The final module builds on the previous three modules and also contains unique value-added hands-on learning. The primary assumption shattered in this module is that all negotiations are about a fixed resource (i.e., “the myth of the fixed pie”). Negotiations are NOT always a zero-sum game. In fact, more often than not there are creative and integrative solutions to problems such that both parties can trade what they are least interested in for what they are most interested in (provided the other party has the reciprocal valuation of the same commodities). These critical learning points are covered. Students are given opportunities to practice utilizing the skills in the classroom (in dyadic simulated negotiations) and in the community with strangers. They are also given skills to learn how to “expand the pie” and think creatively about solutions to common problems. Principles taught are: (1) how to expand the goods being discussed (i.e., the myth of the “fixed-pie”), (2) how to build relationships during a negotiation (and before and after), (3) how to be more directive and assertive when appropriate, (4) different types of issues facing negotiators, Students will engage in a number of in-class and out-of-class negotiations in order to demonstrate and practice each concept.