Why accelerators use workshops for knowledge transfer

by Marcel Siebert, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

As a new incubator model, accelerators are using workshops for knowledge transfer scientifically more often than classic incubators do (Drori & Wright, 2018). As the name implies, workshops are about to work on a specific topic rather than on learning something new which is common in other knowledge transfer formats like lectures or trainings. The goal of every strategic workshop is to develop new or better ideas. However, a key outcome of workshops is still learning because the participants learn through the distributed interaction, particularly about each other’s perspectives (Morton et al, 2007).

Accelerators are using strategic workshops because they fit the entrepreneurial mindset, are suitable for the venture developing process, and are highly influenced by the facilitator which is chosen by the accelerator (Siebert, 2021). First, strategic workshops fit the entrepreneurial mindset because their underlying principle is contingency orientation rather than providing a prescription for the participants which refers to the uncertainty entrepreneurs face (Eden et al., 1993). Secondly, within strategic workshop suitable frameworks for business model development as the CANVAS or Lean Start-Up Framework are introduced. These frameworks help entrepreneurs by validating crucial assumptions about their market opportunities, business design, product etc. Frameworks are helpful because entrepreneurs, as all people, are influenced by mental limitations and social restrictions during their venture development process. For example, entrepreneurs are often too optimistic about their initiated target market and support their assumptions with conformation search (Blank, 2019). Thirdly, these frameworks are introduced by a facilitator who also manages debates in a workshop and therefore has a high impact on the strategy outcome. The role of the facilitator is to intervene in order to shift the debates from the comfortable zone through the uncomfortable zone into the initial core (Bowman, 1995). If the initial core of shared assumptions is probed, the strategy outcome will be more sustainable and resilient when faced uncertainty. By picking a facilitator the accelerator himself has a major impact on the outcome of the strategy workshop. 

In summary, accelerators are using strategic workshops for knowledge transfer because entrepreneurs learn “on the hop” where and how to play with their Start-Up and develop new or better ideas for their ventures. Moreover, the accelerator keeps an impact on this process by selecting the facilitator.  

References

Blank, S. (2019). How to stop playing “Target Market Roulette”: A new addition to the lean toolset. Retrieved May25, 2019.

Bowman, C. (1995). Strategy workshops and top‐team commitment to strategic change. Journal of Managerial Psychology.

Drori, I., & Wright, M. (2018). Accelerators: Characteristics, trends and the new entrepreneurial ecosystem. In Accelerators. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Eden, C., & Huxham, C. (1988). Action-oriented strategic management. Journal of the Operational Research Society39(10), 889-899.

Siebert, M. (2021). Why accelerators are using workshops for knowledge transfer?. Organizing for Innovation.

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