Prescriptive Entrepreneurship
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Prescriptive Entrepreneurship

James O. Fiet

In the only known programme of prescriptive entrepreneurship, James Fiet provides a marked contrast to the standard descriptive focus of entrepreneurship studies. Instead of the anecdotally based pedagogies that have dominated the teaching of entrepreneurship (and which do not control for luck-based success), the author lays out a programme of research to develop and test theoretically derived guidelines for how to improve the success rate and performance of aspiring entrepreneurs. Rather than describing what entrepreneurs do, he prescribes and tests what they ought to do.
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Chapter 1: The Promise of Prescriptive Entrepreneurship

James O. Fiet


Key ideas Prescriptive research consists of a set of studies intended to develop and test theoretically derived guidelines for how to improve the success rate and performance of aspiring entrepreneurs. Also, this chapter reviews those factors, which have both inhibited and facilitated prescriptive studies. It also previews the types of prescriptive studies, which will be explored in this book. THE P.T. BARNUM EFFECT In January 2007, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it was levying millions of dollars of fines against four diet pill manufacturers. The reason for the fines was that they were making claims about their products that had not been backed up by scientific studies. The firms were to be allowed to continue selling their pills. However, they had to pay fines and were prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims. In the past, these firms promoted their pills using celebrity endorsements as part of televised infomercials. FTC Commissioner Deborah Platt Majoras, in announcing the penalties concluded that “testimonials from individuals are not a substitute for science – that’s what Americans need to understand” (Associated Press, 2007). Except for the celebrity endorsements, claims in the popular business press about particular formulas for becoming successful entrepreneurs are quite similar in their approach to those for diet pills. Whether they relate to looking for gaps, being determined to succeed or possessing a particular way of viewing the world, we can find numerous testimonials from authors supporting one formula or another. It should be obvious that these “testimonials . . . are not a substitute...

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