Chapter Listing | Return to 1997 Topical Index


MY PERSPECTIVE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP, 1953

With the luxury of freedom from the now completed and defended dissertation, I took time to reflect on what I knew.

The first thing clear in my mind about entrepreneurs, at that time, was that they were different.  Another was that they were executives, often founders, who excelled.  They made a difference.  I would add here that I think that was also the view of Schumpeter, Barnard, Simon, and Papandreau.  It seems clear that Barnard was in close association with Schumpeter at Harvard. Barnard does not use the term entrepreneur in his work, but his explanation of intuition really is modeled from Schumpeter.   Further, his emphasis on the necessity of executives to continually adjust internal processes to prevailing outside forces, plus his advocacy of their persisting and pushing beyond apparent "limited choices," is a harmonious extension of Schumpeter's concepts. Simon, in contrast, used the term "entrepreneur," sparingly, but interchangeably with manager.  He was much more cautious in describing intuition.  He interpreted it as the non–rational elements in decision making and action that speed up the process.  But it's there also in his recognition that decisions are often made with incomplete information (Simon, 1945).  (Simon didn't come up with a solid explanation of intuition until much later when he defined it  as a logical and rapid adaptive behavior to the recognition of patterns and their probable outcomes—citing that many thousands of these patterns are at the ready by those having a depth of learning and experience (1987)). Papandreau's conversations with me and his work stressing "peak coordinator" concepts show that he also saw entrepreneurs as outstanding executives.  We certainly all agreed that they were intuitive.

I saw intuition as at least one common thread weaving consequential managers and/or consequential leaders into a seamless cloth called entrepreneurs.  They were well–versed, not easily  replaceable  people, who were willing and able to seek and seize opportunities by combing resources in unique ways. It should be noted here that there is no mention of "founder," "start–up," "owner," or similar connotation here—nor is there any mention of such in the literature so far cited.  Nonetheless, I uncovered many founders in my subsequent search for entrepreneurs, but I never considered it a critical factor.  For  founders, it was the kinds of actions that they took after founding that were the determiners.  To me "entrepreneur" was not a title bequeathed, it was a title earned by significant performance.  In reading Schumpeter, I got no inkling of any other way to entitlement.  What was good enough for Schumpeter was good enough for me!

Top of page | Chapter Listing | Return to 1997 Topical Index


1997 Babson College All Rights Reserved
Last Updated 03/15/98