Edited by Kevin Hindle and Kim Klyver
Chapter 4: Re-imagining The Achieving Society
William B. Gartner INTRODUCTION In earlier work (Gartner 1985, 1988, 1989) I questioned the value of focusing on the traits or characteristics of entrepreneurs, primarily because of my initial empirical exploration of entrepreneurship that suggests that entrepreneurs, themselves, are very different from each other (Gartner et al. 1989). There is no one ‘type’ of entrepreneur, and there is no one particular set of characteristics that differentiate entrepreneurs from other types of individuals. As I have suggested in previous articles (Gartner 1990, 1993, 2001; Gartner et al. 2006), the phenomenon of entrepreneurship covers a broad range of topics, meanings and definitions, so when I use the word ‘entrepreneur’ I am talking about individuals involved in the process of starting organizations. In this view, then, individuals are ‘entrepreneurs’ or are acting in an ‘entrepreneurial’ way when they are engaged in starting organizations. As in Schumpeter’s view of these individuals, when people are engaged in entrepreneurial activities they are entrepreneurs, and when they are not engaged in entrepreneurial activities they are not entrepreneurs. On a more fundamental level, I believe that the primary attributes of entrepreneurship can be acquired by all individuals. That is, these attributes are ways of thinking and behaving that entrepreneurs can learn, rather than characteristics that individuals either have or don’t. If one assumes that the critical aspects of entrepreneurship can be acquired, then, testing for whether an individual has, at some point, the requisite skill (which was likely tested for after the experience of the entrepreneurial activity) simply...
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