Concept of Entrepreneurship

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Discuss and define the concept of ‘entrepreneurship’.

The entrepreneur is our visionary, the creator in each of us. We're born with that quality and it defines our lives as we respond to what we see, hear, feel, and experience. It is developed, nurtured, and given space to flourish or is squelched, thwarted, without air or stimulation, and dies. Michael Gerber

The term 'entrepreneur' has been around since the seventeenth-century, it originates from France, where the phrase “entreprendre” was first used when a Frenchmen ‘entered and took charge’ of royal contracts. It was used widely to describe a person who lead a project which would deliver valuable benefits and bring it to completion, a person who can manage uncertainty and bring success in the face of challenges that would destroy a less well managed venture. In this early 19th century this description was altered by the French economist J. B. Say who instead focused on the business process rather than the practitioner. He said that an entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower productivity and into one of higher productivity and greater yield. 200 years later confusion still remains over the definitions of ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘entrepreneurship' with no single definition existing.

Further examples back up this point. In 'Advanced Entrepreneurship' by H. Rwigema and R. Venter the term is described as “... a process of conceptualising, organising, launching and – through innovation – nurturing a business opportunity into a potentially high growth venture in a complex, unstable environment”.

Meanwhile Scott Shane in 'General Theory of Entrepreneurship' believes "Entrepreneurship is an activity that involves the discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunities to introduce new goods and services, ways of organising, markets, processes, and raw materials through organising efforts that previously not existed." (Shane, S. 2003)

In fact, the variations are almost endless: "Entrepreneurship is the act of forming a new organisation of value" (Bateman& Snell 1996), "... the creation of new enterprise" (Bartol & Martin 1998) or "...the process of creating something new with value by devoting the necessary time and effort, assuming the accompanying financial, and receiving the resulting rewards of monetary and personal satisfaction and independence." (Hisrich & Peters 1998) Consequently, we can say with certainty that entrepreneurship is at best ambiguous and at worst a wildly theoretical concept but we believe the best definition comes from Peter Kilby – as noted by Wickham (1998). He says the entrepreneur has a lot in common with the 'Heffalump', a fictional animal in A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. "[The Heffalump] is a rather large and important animal. He has been hunted by many individuals using various trapping devices, but no one so far has succeeded in capturing him. All who claim to have caught sight of him report that he is enormous but disagree on his particulars." (Wickham 1998)

Unlike the others, Kilby accepts the mystic of the entrepreneur as primary to its definition and that its value is actually found in this ambiguity because it enables each individual to find meaning and inspiration to match their expectations.

Definitions aside, to better understand the nature of entrepreneurship itself however we must now look at some of developmental theory and examine the different schools of entrepreneurial thought.

THE MACRO VIEW OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP – is a view which presents a broad selection of factors relating to success or failure in existing entrepreneurial businesses in the external locus of control. It also includes external processes that are beyond the control of the individual entrepreneur and can be broken down into three subcategories:

The Environmental School of Thought – This school deals with external factors that affect the lifestyle of a potential entrepreneur. These could be positive or negative...
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