2. For a critical theory of entrepreneurship When the word ‘entrepreneur’ is used, we often think of the typical ‘selfmade man’ who spotted a gap in the market, started a business, and made it into a large going-concern. Today the word seems to be used in an extremely promiscuous way. It is possible to talk about an employee pursuing a new idea as an ‘intrapreneur’ (Kanter, 1990). It makes sense to talk about a woman who owns a cow in an Indian village and sells some of the precious milk to her neighbours as a ‘micro-entrepreneur’ (Westall et al., 2000). A public sector employee who has an eye for gaining funding from the private sector is also an entrepreneur (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992). Those who build new institutions are known as ‘institutional entrepreneurs’ (Dorado, 2005). An individual who changes the direction of political struggles is called a ‘political entrepreneur’ (Schneider and Teske, 1992). The ancient activity of charity is now ‘social entrepreneurship’ (Austin et al., 2006). Professionals such as doctors and nurses have now been recoded as entrepreneurs (Doolin, 2002). This has all led some social critics to argue that we are experiencing a profound and notable generalisation of the category of the entrepreneur, to the point where the figure of the entrepreneur can be used to refer not just to someone undertaking a small business start-up, but to nearly anyone. In this chapter we ask how we can adequately understand this generalisation of the entrepreneur. We argue that functionalist...
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