Entrepreneur is a hot topic for both academic scholars and people ambitious for business success. They are a group of persons who can significantly influence many aspects of economy and society. This paper will critically discuss the role of entrepreneurs by examining their contributions to the economy and society, using examples from various articles on the topic.
Starting by defining the entrepreneurs to be discussed, this paper examines the contributions to economy from the aspects of employment, innovation, productivity and growth, utility; certain costs or drawbacks are also considered. Though the business activities of entrepreneurs produce social benefits as well, some entrepreneurs have begun to put social issues in priority. Labeled as social entrepreneurs, they are devoted to solving social problems. In fact all the entrepreneurs have the potential to contribute to social benefits and are expected to achieve these goals, for example to implement sustainable development.
In the wake of the appearance of many problems in our societies and communities, and the awareness of the emergence, the public have raised the expectations of CSR (corporate social responsibility) not only on large companies, but also increasingly more on entrepreneurial ones. In the context of the current society and economy, especially in developed economies, entrepreneurs are expected to have higher commitment to social responsibilities.
Before this topic can be discussed in depth, the first question to be answered is "Who is an entrepreneur?" The definition varies between different groups of scholars. The definitions of entrepreneurship currently being discussed by scholars are focusing on the functional level, after shifting from the analysis of individuals. Here are the three main definitions: Gartner's (1988) "Entrepreneurship is the creation of new organization", Venkataraman's (1997) "Entrepreneurship as a scholarly field seeks to understand how opportunities to bring into existence 'future' goods and services are discovered, created and exploited, by whom, and with what consequences". Entrepreneurship Division's (2002) broad coverage in commercial activities, "The Entrepreneurship Division's domain is the creation and management of new business, small businesses and family firms, as well as the characteristics and special problems of entrepreneurs..." The definitions outline the range of entrepreneurship, along with indicating some of the essential contributions and values of entrepreneurs, the creation of something new, new value, innovation, etc.
In this paper, another proposed definition is adopted, which puts entrepreneurship in a broader context of the social and economic environment, so as to facilitate the examination of entrepreneurs' roles in economy and society. "Entrepreneurship involves individuals and groups of individuals seeking and exploiting economic opportunity" (McKenzie, Ugbah and Smothers, 2007).
Recently, due to the role of entrepreneurs focusing more on social aspects, the research of social entrepreneur is of greater interest for many scholars and researchers. Similarly, the definition of social entrepreneurs is being debated. Considering the aim of this paper is to examine the contributions of entrepreneurs, a broader definition is adopted which relates social entrepreneurship to individuals or organizations engaged in entrepreneurial activities with a social goal. (Certo & Miller et al. 2008, cited by Mitra & Borza, 2011)
In this paper, there is no attempt to distinguish the social entrepreneur from the commercial entrepreneur, since the different labels do not imply greatly different contributions. The difference is more about the motive or individual objective, rather than their contributions. (In fact, many perceived social entrepreneurs do not realize or agree they are in this...