Exploring Entrepreneurial Thinking and Action
Edited by Frederic Bill, Björn Bjerke and Anders W. Johansson
Chapter 11: In the Beginning was Entrepreneuring
Bengt Johannisson INTRODUCTION: WHETHER TO MOBILIZE OR DEMOBILIZE THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP DISCOURSE IS THE WRONG QUESTION Entrepreneurship as an academic field of inquiry is quite young, becoming institutionalized as a generally researched phenomenon only in the 1980s. Since then entrepreneurship has evolved from signifying business start-ups to becoming associated with social forces which trigger societal change. This development gives us a reason to search for the origins of entrepreneurship far beyond contemporary discourses on entrepreneurship. Accordingly, I propose that entrepreneurship is a generic human characteristic that is intrinsically associated with human existence itself. Thus, as the entrepreneurship discourse is intimately related to entrepreneurship in action, the challenge is neither to mobilize the entrepreneurship discourse, since there is obviously no need if we acknowledge our humanity, nor to demobilize it, since that would make us non-human. Instead the right question to ask is: How can we prevent society from making its young citizens unlearn, even deny, their entrepreneurial selves? Answering this question is an intellectual challenge of great theoretical and practical, ethical relevance. If this challenge is successfully dealt with there will be no need to reintroduce entrepreneurship to adults as a generic way of approaching life. In order to substantiate my frank statement I have to scrutinize how entrepreneurship – itself intrinsically associated with emergence and thus according to Steyaert (2007), rightfully addressed as ‘entrepreneuring’ – may be associated with man, from childhood to adulthood. Generally, it is easy today to draw parallels between entrepreneuring and children’s curiosity, imagination and experimental approach to...
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