Entrepreneurship is a phenomenon that is driving the world economy today and aptly so because entrepreneurship is the process of creating economic and social value by means of taking risks, creating and exploiting opportunity and generating new ideas. Entrepreneurship is all pervasive and can exist in any industry and market. Also, entrepreneurship is not limited to creating new ventures; entrepreneurship also exists in large corporations like Google and 3M where employees are encouraged to spot opportunities, take risks and innovate. People who carry out the process of entrepreneurship are known as entrepreneurs. The term entrepreneur originates from the French word entreprendre which means to undertake. The concept of the entrepreneur has existed and evolved overtime; from the Middle Ages was when the term was first coined, and an entrepreneur was considered a manager of sorts handling projects on behalf of the church or landowners, to the 19th century where JB say defined an entrepreneur as ‘someone who consciously moves economic resources from an area of lower productivity into that of higher productivity and greater yield. The present day entrepreneur is best described by Drucker’s definition of being someone who ‘always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity (Stokes and Wilson 2006). Drucker’s definition aptly sums up all definitions of an entrepreneur in modern literature as being a risk taker, a catalyst for change, achievement oriented, etc. N.R Smith (1967, cited in Mitra, 2009) classifies entrepreneurs into two broad categories – the ‘Craftsman’ and the ‘Opportunistic’ entrepreneur. The ‘craftsman’ is characterised by lack of education and social awareness, which limits his/her confidence. This typology of entrepreneurs tends to create bureaucratic firms which tend to stagnate. The ‘Opportunistic’ entrepreneur is well educated and trained and thereby socially aware and confident of his/her abilities. This typology of entrepreneurs tends to create flexible, growth oriented firms. Modern literature further categorises entrepreneurs based on their entrepreneurial characteristics and behaviour. Serial, Social, Male, Female, Corporate, Profile; are a few of the types of entrepreneurs covered in modern literature. There are various factors that influence entrepreneurial behaviour and actions. These are broadly classified as economic factors, social factors and psychological factors. In order to be able to study these influences in detail and thereby explain, analyse and predict entrepreneurial actions, economists like Schumpeter, Webber etc., proposed theories of entrepreneurship in the economic, social and psychological context. Although it is necessary to study entrepreneurs in all of thee contexts in order to develop a holistic understanding of them, this paper intends to concentrate on the social influences on entrepreneurs and analyse how society affects the actions of male and female entrepreneurs in similar and varying ways. Societal norms and conditions, in many parts of the world, influence not only the actions of entrepreneurs but also their personalities and behavioural traits and mind set.
Sociological Theory of Entrepreneurship
The sociological theory of entrepreneurship examines the influence of cultural and ideological views, social relationships and networks and organisational and structural factors on entrepreneurial behaviour. Max Weber (1864 – 1920) argued that Capitalism survived because of the Protestants’ positive views on profit making and hard work. This view explains the changing views on entrepreneurship over time, from the extreme of ignorance and neglect to hype and over expectation (Stokes and Wilson, 2006). However, the gradual decline in the influence of religion on society did not result in the subsequent decline of entrepreneurship (Swedberg, 2000). Also Weber’s theory of Ascetic Protestantism does not explain why entrepreneurship was...
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