Edited by Mikael Scherdin and Ivo Zander
Chapter 5: Inviting the Unexpected: Entrepreneurship and the Arts
Stefan Meisiek and Stefan Haefliger When a stranger asks for examples of entrepreneurship in your country, isn’t it common to think spontaneously of innovative business ventures? True entrepreneurs, so it is believed, create value when they bring useful novelties to the world; turning inventions into ready-to-ship innovations. They develop and sell products or services that satisfy practical needs and that clients are willing to pay for – a cell phone for communication, a drug against a terminal illness, a search engine for the Internet, and so on. Arguably, this expression of novelty creation is one of the most fascinating and emphasized facets of entrepreneurship. Governments develop policies to foster it for wealth creation, newspapers and business magazines sing its praise, and universities encourage their brightest students to try it. However, in this chapter we argue that to understand entrepreneurship’s involvement with novelty creation scholars may benefit more from looking at the arts than from studying start-up ventures. There is a simple reason for this: the marginalized role of the unexpected. Scholars explain business entrepreneurship predominantly in terms of economic rationality. In this view, entrepreneurs are attentive and react only to those changes in their environment that promise immediate economic payoff. More often than not, the environmental changes are obvious or marginal, providing entrepreneurs only with me-too and niche opportunities. As a consequence, few business entrepreneurs create novelty and most do very well by copying other companies’ processes, products and services (Bhidé, 2000). In some exceptional cases, however, the environment produces unexpected...
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