Reimagining Business Education Through University-Community Microenterprise Collaborations




business education, community partnerships, microenterprise, MBA programs, microentrepreneurs, democratic civic engagement, intersectionality, multilingualism


Business education must evolve. Traditionally, it has been narrowly focused, siloed, and often reflective of the transactional nature of business through the lens of maximizing shareholder wealth. The triumph of market fundamentalism over the last five decades has coincided with increasing social inequality, the concentration of corporate power, and a weakening of many forms of social solidarity. There are calls for institutions of higher education to reaffirm their commitment to their public purposes and the common good and to leverage their economic resources as anchor institutions. Schools of business have enormous potential to contribute to these efforts by integrating into the curriculum a broader and deeper focus on university-community collaboration, civic engagement, and solidarity with community partners to address social and economic inequities. This case study of a partnership between an MBA program and a community center’s microenterprise program highlights the key role that community engagement can play in graduate business education. The study includes the theoretical model used within the collaboration, which incorporates three overlapping areas: democratic civic engagement, intersectionality, and multilingual communication. Structural barriers and challenges are discussed in the study, but also opportunities for building upon program strengths and a flexible framework for implementation at other institutions.

La educación empresarial debe evolucionar, puesto que, tradicionalmente, ha tenido un acercamiento estrecho y aislado que refleja la naturaleza transaccional de los negocios con un objetivo de maximizar la riqueza de los accionistas. El triunfo del fundamentalismo del mercado a lo largo de las últimas cinco décadas ha coincidido con un aumento de desigualdad social, la concentración del poder corporativo y un debilitamiento de muchas formas de solidaridad social. Hay llamamientos a instituciones de educación superior para reafirmar el compromiso a sus propósitos públicos y el bien común y para hacer uso de sus recursos económicos como “instituciones ancla”. En su plan de estudios, las facultades de administración empresarial tienen un gran potencial para contribuir a estos esfuerzos integando un enfoque más amplio y profundo en la colaboración con la comunidad, el compromiso cívico y la solidaridad con asociaciones comunitarias con el fin de afrontar las inequidades sociales y económicas. Este estudio de caso de una colaboración entre un programa de Maestría en Administración (MBA) y el programa de microempresas de un centro comunitario resalta el papel fundamental que la colaboración comunitaria puede desempeñar en la educación empresarial superior. El estudio incluye el modelo teórico que se usa en esta colaboración, el cual incorpora tres áreas interrelacionadas: el compromiso cívico democrático, la interseccionalidad y la comunicación multilingüe. En el estudio se examinan barreras estructurales y desafíos, pero también oportunidades para construir a partir de los puntos fuertes del programa, así como un marco flexible para su implementación en otras instituciones.

Author Biographies

Kevin G. Guerrieri, University of San Diego

Professor of Spanish, Department of Languages, Cultures and Literatures

Aarti S. Ivanic, Wagner College

Dean and Associate Professor of Marketing, Nicolais School of Business

Diana Hannasch-Haag, University of San Diego

Student Professional Development Manager, Knauss School of Business

Julieta Gonzalez, Access, Inc.

Microenterprise Developer


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