Friday, June 29, 2012

Ambidextrous Entrepreneurship


   According to the influential Austrian economist Schumpeter (1934), entrepreneurship entails the creation of new products, new production methods, new markets and even new forms of organization. This conceptualization of the term is much broader in scope than what most people think about when they imagine entrepreneurial activity. To most, the entrepreneur is simply the owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/entrepreneur). Even scholars of entrepreneurship narrow the scope of Schumpeter's construct, casting it as "a process through which individuals identify opportunities, allocate resources, and create value [wherein] creation of value is often through the identification of unmet needs or through the identification of opportunities for change" (http://www.gregwatson.com/entrepreneurship-definition/). Entrepreneurship can be a process of opportunity identification or the undertaking of risk in search of value. It can also include efforts to transpose and adapt concepts from old domains to new ones, to associate previously unrelated ideas from disparate social worlds, and to balance the groundbreaking with the appropriate in the construction of novelty (see Cultural Entrepreneurship, Lounsbury and Glynn 2001). Truthfully, entrepreneurship is most often defined by what it is not: adherence to the status quo, exploitation of existing modes of value creation and mimetic behavior.

   What New Orleans needs is a new type of Ambidextrous Entrepreneur; a chimera of capitalism and social responsibility that simultaneously undertakes actions that engender the creation of social, cultural and economic value.
  • A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and attempts to solve it by leveraging and redirecting resources;
  • A cultural entrepreneur creates cultural value and capital by introducing new ideas and helping others who seek to enrich culture;
  • A traditional entrepreneur, identifies unmet problems and needs and delivers a solution that addresses those needs (while perhaps generating wealth in the process). 
   An entrepreneur seeking to enrich a community might seek opportunities which allow for engagement in all forms of entrepreneurship while maintaining a healthy disrespect for the boundaries between them. Instead of trying to understand the forms of entrepreneurship already present in the New Orleans ecosystem, scholars need to ask: What kind of entrepreneurship does New Orleans need? And how do we, as educators and scholars, help create this transformative creature?

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