Research encourages universities to nourish entrepreneurial spirit in Generation Z

Speaking to a packed crowd at the 2019 ACBSP Conference, Dr. Daryl D. Green from the Oklahoma Baptist University, revealed that recent research shows Generation Z students are not only the most diverse and inclusive yet, but also the most ambitious. Making up nearly a quarter of the American population (some 74 million young adults), they shun the traditional employee route of their predecessors, with 72% of them wanting to start a business with 61% preferring to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee.

This high percentage reflects the differing work ethic of these students. Having never known a world without social media or smartphones, 84% of participants in a recent study by Forrester showed they regularly multitask with an internet-connected device when watching TV, whilst 66% believe technology makes anything possible. Not just digitally savvy, these students are driven to set themselves apart with nearly 50% participating in internships during high school for the purpose of advancing themselves professionally and 26% currently volunteering in their spare time. 

Therefore if Universities want to continue to attract the best students, it is important for them to adapt their teaching practices for Generation Z. Dr. Green broke this down into seven suggested practices;

  • Creating an academic environment that fosters creativity and entrepreneurial thinking
  • Setting clear expectations and boundaries
  • Engaging students digitally in the classroom and beyond
  • Breaking work assignments into smaller, manageable segments
  • Communicating regularly to provide frequent feedback
  • Being relevant and providing practical application and business role models
  • Incorporating a fluidic frequent reward system

Summing up, Dr. Green said “For the first time in history, there are now 5 generations coexisting in the work place and Generation Z, with its diversity and ingenuity, may be the best of all. This is why it is so important for universities and places of higher learning to encourage the natural entrepreneurial spirit of the most tech savvy, pragmatic and diverse generation yet; enabling them to join the workforce ready to hit the ground running and perhaps inspire businesses to adapt to the future.”  

Event Photos:

unnamed-6Caption #1:  Dr. Green presents “Wire for Life: Inspiring Generation Z to Be Entrepreneurial Leaders.”

unnamed-5Caption #2:  Dr. Green engages the audience of academics.

unnamed-4Caption #3:  Dr. Green unlocks the mystery related to GEN Z.

unnamed-3Caption #4:  Dr. Green discusses 5 generations in the workplaces.

unnamed-2Caption #5:  The audience listens as Dr. Green breaks down GEN Z traits.

unnamed-1Caption #6:  Dr. Green reunites with a former classmate from his doctoral program.

unnamedAbout Oklahoma Baptist University/Dr. Daryl D. Green: 

With its campus in Shawnee, and locations in Oklahoma City and Broken Arrow, OBU offers 10 bachelor’s degrees with 88 fields of study and 5 master’s degree programs. The Christian liberal arts university has an overall enrollment of 2,073, with students from 40 states and 35 other countries. OBU has been rated as one of the top 10 regional colleges in the West by the U.S. News and World Report for 25 consecutive years and has been Oklahoma’s highest rated regional college in the U.S. News rankings for 23 consecutive years. OBU is one of the three universities in Oklahoma and the only private Oklahoma University listed on Great Value College’s rankings of 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the Midwest. Forbes.com consistently ranks OBU as a top university in Oklahoma, and the Princeton Review has named OBU one of the best colleges and universities in the western United States for 12 consecutive years.

Dr. Daryl Green, assistant professor of business at Oklahoma Baptist University and Dickinson chair of business.  He is an award-winning author with more than 30 books. He and his wife Estraletta have several years of social and competitive ballroom dance experience, competing in Georgia, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Dr. Green has taught social dancing classes and is a former president of the Knoxville Chapter of USA Dance Inc.  

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Entrepreneurial Sustainability: Building New Markets

Ervin “Magic” Johnson was perhaps one of the greatest NBA players from my generation.  Watching the Lakers battle the Celtics became an American obsession.  Johnson, who was the floor general for the L.A. Lakers (aka “Showtime”), always performed well in big games.  His list of athletic accomplishments could fill a phone book. 

Yet, it’s Johnson’s off-the-court behavior that is a benchmark for individuals who search for sustainability in business.  Being a visionary and a doer, Johnson found opportunities in underserved areas where most traditional businesses would not pursue. 

Johnson explains, “I am grateful for my experience as an athlete. Yet the rewards of my entrepreneurial endeavors have been even more fulfilling. I’ve learned that creating jobs and providing goods and services to urban communities beats even five NBA championships.” In fact, he has used his economic power to leverage economic development in urban depressed areas. Therefore, he has become a social change agent.

In his book, 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business, Johnson explains how he developed his entrepreneurial mindset. The book provides practical advice on starting, financing, marketing, growing a business, and capitalizing on market opportunities.  Clearly, Johnson went against the grain and showed that lucrative markets are not all abroad. Like Johnson, today’s businesses will need to explore more market opportunities. Entrepreneurs inject creativity and innovation for greater profitability. In fact, they seize market problems and turn them into opportunities.

Robert Hisrich, Michael Peters, and Dean Shepherd, authors of Entrepreneurship, argue that while business owners take risks on new markets, entrepreneurs understand how to exploit these risks to their advantage.  They note, “Though many individuals have creative new ideas, few can bring their ideas to the market and create new venture. Yet entrepreneurship and the actual entrepreneurial decisions have resulted in several million new businesses being started throughout the world.”

Social media platforms such as Youtube.com may be the next frontier for entrepreneurs.  For example, Facebook now seeks to capture more of the small business market.  With 750 million users, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg notes that 9 million of the nation’s 30 million small businesses are using Facebook to communicate with their customers.  Sandberg explains, “I think every small business should…be using Facebook. We’re not going to stop until all of them are using it to grow their businesses.”

Currently, small businesses use free Facebook pages to communicate with their customers. However, Sandberg argues that Facebook services can offer more to small businesses: “Facebook takes word-of-mouth marketing and makes it work at scale.” 

Facebook will launch a plan to attract more small business advertisement by offering a free $50 advertising credit to approximately 200,000 small businesses.  Like Magic Johnson and Facebook, today’s managers need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and search for new market opportunities.

Describe a potential entrepreneurial opportunity for you over the next five years.  How will you be able to sustain any success given market forces (i.e. Porter’s Five Competitor Forces)? 

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green                                    


[1] “Facebook wants to be big among small businesses” by Jefferson Graham