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Richard Branson bemoans 'overeducated,' risk-averse entrepreneurs: WikiLeaks

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"There is a growing urgency to teach entrepreneurship and innovation that is directly related to the decline of innovation in the American economy," says Dr. Dennis Ceru, who teaches courses on entrepreneurship and business strategy at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.

"I think Branson’s on to something," agrees Jeffrey Bernel, a business owner and professor at Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. "Education is really important. On the other hand, if it stifles your creativity and ability to innovate and look deeper into opportunities. It's not good for entrepreneurship."

Branson's off-the-record comments came in January 2008, when he and other high-ranking British businessmen accompanied then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Beijing and attended a lunch conference with Chinese businessmen entitled "What Makes a Good Entrepreneur?"

Too afraid of failure?

According to the cable (read here), Chinese participants criticized British entrepreneurs as being “overeducated, too conservative, lacking passion for entrepreneurship, and too afraid of failure.”

Branson – who dropped out of school at age 15 but went on to found Virgin Group Limited, a conglomerate of more than 400 companies from Virgin Atlantic airline to Virgin Records music label – agreed with the criticism “that British entrepreneurs are overeducated and that schooling does not prepare one for entering the business world.”

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