Alignment of teaching and practice: Entrepreneurial SME marketing
This research is investigating the gap between New Zealand university marketing degree content and SME marketing job requirements. Marketing has changed drastically in the Internet age. This study asks if university marketing courses have kept pace with the requirements of small-to-medium enterprises. The aim of the research is to explore the gap between SME marketing requirements and university marketing courses. To identify the strategic implications of any gap for businesses, universities and society and to suggest methods of remedying any gap identified. The methodology employed was content analysis of SME marketing job descriptions and university undergraduate marketing course curricula, followed by semi-structured interviews with undergraduate marketing coordinators from three New Zealand universities.
The findings indicate a gap indeed exists. Industry analysis identified four key areas in demand: soft skills, communication skills, theory and industry skills. Industry skills are most lacking in the marketing curricula while marketing theory is well covered. However, marketing theory tends to emphasize large business; no SME or startup-oriented theory or coursework was identified. Massey University was the only university to offer specific communication courses in its marketing curricula. Waikato offered the most digitally-enriched curricula. Interviews revealed there are political barriers to reform of the curricula, especially universities’ adherence to the PBRF system and emphasis on research publications by academics. Teaching and industry experience appear to have minimal weighting in career progression for academics.
Universities should seek to incorporate all four areas identified into their business and marketing curricula. Academic career progression should place additional weight on teaching and industry experience. There appear to be an excess of academics who have never worked in marketing or business. Business schools need to embrace a balance between scholarly theory and practice, and install this into the curricula. More thorough internships, business-university associations and a greater emphasis on teaching excellence are recommended.