Project-based strategic management education: A client perspective on key challenges


  • Mariano Garrido-Lopez Western Carolina University
  • Yue Cai Hillon Western Carolina University
  • Wendy Cagle Western Carolina University
  • Edward Wright Western Carolina University


This paper explores the benefits of project-based learning from the small business client perspective. The reflections of a sample of small businesses were collected through a feedback survey after participating in a semester-long project-based learning process developed for the Strategic Management curriculum in the College of Business at Western Carolina University (WCU). The clients that participated in projects are primarily local and regional businesses in Western North Carolina; they were sourced through the Small Business Centers (SBC) located at the area community colleges and the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) located at WCU. Most participating organizations are existing small businesses or start-ups with a high probability and capacity for growth that will enhance the economic development of the region. Literature review of both small business and project-based pedagogy challenges demonstrated the potential for co-creation of value. This study laid out the steps we took to organize a project-based Strategic Management pedagogy. Our analysis of both close- and open-ended client feedback revealed four key success factor themes for developing a mutually beneficial project-based pedagogy: communication and interaction, project organization and student preparation, quality of work, and co-creation of value; the specific priority actions for each theme are detailed in the paper.


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