World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship
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World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana

This comprehensive reference work, written by some of the most eminent academics in the field, contains entries on numerous aspects of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 14: Environment for Entrepreneurship

Jean J. Obrecht


Jean J. Obrecht In mainstream thinking on entrepreneurship, the entrepreneur is the central figure. He is seen to be involved in a process of searching for new opportunities and creating new organizations. As a driving force of competition, he takes risks and strives for profits. His behaviour lies on pursuing self-interest and his environment is confined to markets. In a sociological perspective of entrepreneurship as a whole, this way of understanding entrepreneurship belongs to ‘the supply-side perspective which focuses on the availability of suitable individuals to occupy entrepreneurial roles’, whereas the demand-side would focus on ‘the number and nature of the entrepreneurial roles that need to be filled’ (Thornton, 1999). Since differences in entrepreneurial role patterns are linked to differences in entrepreneurial environments, the latter perspective requires enhanced attention as to the context in which entrepreneurship occurs. 1 PRELIMINARIES ON CONTEXTUALIZATION In a world where, despite the globalization of markets, diversity as regards people and institutions combines with inequality as regards economic development levels, the examination of what contextualization means in the field of research on entrepreneurship is all the more necessary, unless we assimilate the entrepreneur to a ‘rational fool’ which is equivalent, according to Amartya Sen, to the state of a ‘social moron’ (Sen, 1977). Indeed, the understanding of the entrepreneurial environment requires appropriate analytical tools. These are to be looked for outside prevailing literature on entrepreneurship which, as recalled above, draws up a single role model grounded on Western utilitarianism and which, therefore, might not be endowed...

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