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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


The Small Business Experience: 'Real-life' Learning from an Interdisplinary Perspective

Peter McGhee.

There has been much written about the need for experiential learning in education. This paper provides a discussion of "real-world" experiential learning - The Small Business Experience (SBE) - that occurs within an introductory module of a first year interdisciplinary programme in the Bachelor of Business at Auckland University of Technology.

This module identifies, analyses and discusses, using theoretical frameworks and technical processes drawn from the foundation business disciplines, the environment in which small to medium businesses operate. As part of this process students undertake the SBE. Over an 8-week period students are put into random groups to generate, develop, finance, market and operate a viable business idea. At the end of this period students are required to present their business plan and operational outcomes to other class members and lecturers.

As part of the ethos of an integrated programme students acquire insights into what it means to be doing business, appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of the business world and develop an understanding of the fundamental conceptual frameworks and technical competencies of the foundation business disciplines. The SBE contributes to this process by linking abstract conceptualisation (thinking) with "real-world" learning consisting of active experimentation (doing), concrete experience (sensing), and reflective observation (watching) within an integrated business framework.


Peter McGhee  (New Zealand)
Lecturer, Integrated School of Business

Auckland University of Technology

Peter McGhee is a lecturer in the faculty of Business at the Auckland University of Technology. His research interests include the intedisciplinary nature of business, organisational learning and business ethics.

  • Real-world Learning
  • Experiential Learning
  • Interdisplinary
  • Integrated Business Practice
  • Small Business Experience

(30 min Conference Paper, English)