1 Entrepreneurship: first impressions
Though it is easy to find a basic definition of the words ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘entrepreneurship’, there is still a lot of disagreement over the way these words are used in practice. For example, while some people describe any small business owner as an entrepreneur, others reserve that term for a person who is either starting a new venture or running one that is highly innovative or capable of rapid growth. Similarly, while there is a common tendency to understand entrepreneurship largely in terms of exceptional individuals, it is also possible to emphasise the distinctive social relationships or networks that are associated with this kind of activity. this course encourages you to start thinking about entrepreneurship: what it is, how it works and why it is worth exploring.
There is a widespread tendency to stereotype entrepreneurs and, as a consequence, to over-simplify a far more complex phenomenon. For example, some people see commercial entrepreneurs as a wholly positive force in society, while for others they evoke negative images. At the same time, the language of ‘entrepreneurship’ has been used to describe radically different types of human behaviour. The end result is that a team of social entrepreneurs building innovative healthcare systems and a criminal gang creating illicit trading networks may both find themselves referred to as acting ‘entrepreneurially’. In the first activity, we start to explore this territory by asking what it means to be an ‘entrepreneur’.