The Macquarie Innovation Learning and Knowledge (MILK) framework

Sam Burshtein, Steve Brodie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The term Entrepreneurship is generally seen to encompass a relatively broad range of activities and roles, including self-employment, small business management, the establishment of technology-based start-ups, commercialisation of Intellectual Property, and pioneering new ideas and leading transformational change. Even within these distinct spheres, there is a range of entrepreneurial roles – from providing leadership and strategic vision, through to conduct of day-to-day activities involved in achieving sales revenues and ensuring the venture’s solvency. Each of these roles requires a distinct (albeit often overlapping) set of knowledge and skills. As part of an effort to develop a cohesive set of academic and professional education programs addressing Entrepreneurship and Innovation, our team identified a need for an explicit map of the successful Entrepreneur’s knowledge base possessed, and a framework that relates the various ideas, concepts, and skills that comprise such a knowledge base to each other, and to the various roles and functions that fall under the broad rubric of Entrepreneurship. The Macquarie Innovation Learning & Knowledge (MILK) Framework was intended as a tool that could be used to define and categories the basic units of knowledge and skill that should be part of an Entrepreneurship education program. It seeks to segment relevant knowledge into a defined set of categories (dimensions), with each dimension representing a particular field of specialization. Each category is further segmented into levels of increased complexity and significance – with concepts at each level relying (and building) upon lower level ones for effective comprehension. This structure is keeping the view of memory as a hierarchical network of conceptual schemas, and Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory, which argues that working memory capacity acts as a constraint on the size of individual concepts (schemas). Learning complex ideas thus relies on having them be expressed as a combination of simpler concepts that have been previously learned. The current version of the framework defines nine functional dimensions, coupled with an integrative one (strategic perspective) that reflects connections between the other nine. Each dimension was delineated into four levels of complexity – from a basic awareness of the field, through to mastery that enables one to play a leadership role in that area. The resulting model sets out 40 distinct modules of “knowledge”, each encompassing a specific set of ideas, skills and capabilities. The MILK framework enables the explicit definition of a minimum skill set to be expected of staff in specific organizational roles (such as R&D Manager, Business Development Lead, Sales Executive, or CEO). These definitions can then be applied in recruitment, promotion and performance evaluation, as well as being used for determination of professional development and training needs. The framework is being applied at the Macquarie Institute for Innovation to develop a set of teaching modules that can be assembled into specific education and training programs. This enables the deployment of a teaching model that is comprehensive, robust, and cost effective. The framework also supports a research agenda, with a focus on developing clearer definitions of the content of each module.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Asia entrepreneurship and sustainability
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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