As part of the University of Virginia's new partnership with Coursera, a Stanford spin-out, the Darden School of Business will offer in January 2013, U.Va.'s first "massive open online course," or MOOC, called "Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses."
Darden's Dean Bob Bruner explains the offering, which is available worldwide, at no cost, to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection, as "a ‛learning launch' whereby Darden can acquire insights that can help to raise our game even higher in our three formats of the MBA (MBA, MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives) and Executive Education programs. The course can advance our mission of developing principled leaders for the world of practical affairs."
A recent research report, "Accelerating Job Creation in America: The Promise of High-Impact Companies" by Spencer L. Tracy Jr., funded by the Small Business Administration, has challenged the common belief that most new job creation in the United States comes from entrepreneurial startups. That research found that almost all net U.S. job creation in recent years came - not from startups - but from older existing private high-growth businesses.
Darden's "Grow to Greatness" course grew out of research funded by Darden's Batten Institute that studied the growth challenges of 54 high-growth private businesses in 23 different states. The research, led by Professor Ed Hess, who is also Batten's executive-in-residence, produced the only text/casebook in print to support an advanced entrepreneurship course at U.S. colleges and universities on growing existing private businesses. The book is titled Growing an Entrepreneurial Business: Concepts and Cases. Hess also published a leading practitioner book, Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses, based on that research. Both books were peer-reviewed and published by Stanford University Press.
"My research shows that every private business faces a set of common management challenges created by growth," said Professor Hess. "Private business owners and students can learn from successful business builders through this course - they do not have to reinvent the wheel."
He sees the Coursera offering as integral to Darden's mission and history of educating not only students but also practitioners.
"We will reach thousands of students and small business owners all over the world who otherwise would not have the opportunity to come to Darden and learn," he said. "If we can help some of them be more successful as they face the common growth management problems, we can not only help people achieve their dreams but also help create jobs and have a positive impact in their societies."
Darden is one of the few business schools to offer a course in its MBA program focused solely on the challenges of growing existing entrepreneurial businesses. The course content will be offered free by Coursera in two "Grow to Greatness" courses, the first of which will begin on 28 January 2013.
Since the course was announced in mid-July, more than 15,700 people have signed up. Registration is available via Coursera's course page.
Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs Peter Rodriguez sees the course as a natural extension for Darden's faculty, consistently ranked among the world's best by Financial Times and The Princeton Review. "We are committed to sharing our high-engagement style through this new delivery channel - it is an opportunity for Darden to engage with tens of thousands of people around the world in every course offering. We are very excited to have this opportunity.”
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