Edited by G. Page West III, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and Kelly G. Shaver
Chapter 2: From Commerce to Culture: Entrepreneurship in the Mainstream
William Scott Green* Entrepreneurship is identified almost exclusively with business. Although in medieval French ‘entrepreneur’ had a broader meaning – a person who has lots of energy and can get things done – in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, entrepreneurship became attached to commerce. As a result, American educational discourse about entrepreneurship is largely shaped by the restricted code of business and seems extraneous to a broader range of thought and action. To be sure, it would be misleading to suggest that entrepreneurship is not fundamental to contemporary business. But limiting entrepreneurship to business and business education artificially truncates its meaning and obscures important connections between commerce and culture that shape contemporary life. Entrepreneurship is the process through which innovations become enterprises that produce value. It is how new ideas become concrete and affect people’s lives. Thus, entrepreneurship cannot be reduced to innovation or management alone. It requires implementation, which transforms a new idea into something tangible from which people can benefit. And, as Carl Schramm points out, to yield benefit, the ‘idea’ behind a new venture must be more than merely ‘great’; it must be ‘actionable . . . something the market values’ (2006: 65–6). Thus, entrepreneurship entails three essential components: a new idea, its implementation into an enterprise, and the market’s acceptance of the enterprise. Entrepreneurship is the way a free society identifies and responds to its needs and desires and thereby advances and enriches its future. Current entrepreneurship education often – perhaps generally – does not reflect the centrality of entrepreneurship to American...
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