Educating graduates for marketing in SMEs: an update for the traditional marketing curriculum

Article English OPEN
Cheng, R ; Lourenço, F ; Resnick, S (2016)

Purpose – Despite rising graduate unemployment in the UK, there are insufficient numbers of graduates employed in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The literature suggests that a teaching emphasis on large organisational business models in Higher Education Institutions (HEI), particularly in the teaching of marketing theory, renders the SME sector unattractive to graduate employment and conversely, it is perceived that graduates lack additional ‘soft skills’ vital for SME development and growth. The aim of this study is to provide an analysis of how SMEs define marketing and to compare student perspective on marketing within a SME context. This paper also examines the need to improve the conventional marketing curriculum with additional teaching solutions that consider the reality of UK SME ownership and student employment prospects.\ud Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative research approach was adopted using in-depth interviews amongst ten SME owners and twenty undergraduate marketing students of a UK University.\ud Findings – Findings revealed that the marketing practices used in SMEs were not present in the marketing curriculum in the case University. The employment of marketing graduates was not positively perceived by SME owners and equally, marketing undergraduates did not view SMEs as the career organisation of choice.\ud Research limitations/implications – The findings suggest that Universities need to adapt their marketing curriculum to inform students of the realities of SME marketing practice and better prepare them for future employment in this sector, which contributes significantly to the overall economy and job creation in the UK.\ud Originality/value – Our study re-evaluates the HE marketing curriculum and suggests an update of the curriculum in order to move the university-industry-government relationship away from the traditional knowledge transfer perspective.
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