Entrepreneurship is the most powerful economic force known to mankind. There has been a great deal of attention paid to the subject of entrepreneurship over the past few years, stemming primarily from the discovery by economic analysts that small firms contribute considerably to economic growth and vitality. The entrepreneurial revolution that captured our imagination during the last decade has now permeated every aspect of business and social thinking and planning. The process of transforming creative ideas continues to be our major challenge. Successful entrepreneurship requires more than merely luck and money.
The concept of entrepreneurship has a wide range of meanings and definitions. On one extreme, an entrepreneur is a person of very high aptitude, who pioneers change,
possessing characteristics found in only a very small fraction of the population. On the other extreme of definitions, anyone who wants to work for himself or herself is considered to be an entrepreneur. The word entrepreneur originates from the French word, entreprendre, which means “to undertake.” In a business context, it means to start a business. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary presents the definition of an entrepreneur as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.
Peter Kilby once compared entrepreneurship to the imaginary animal, the Heffa-lump: It is a large and important animal which has been hunted by many individuals using various ingenious trapping devices. All who claim to have caught sight of him report that he is enormous, but they disagree on his particularities. Not having explored his current habitat with sufficient care, some hunters have used as bait their own favourite dishes and have then tried to persuade people that what they caught was a Heffa-lump. However, very few are convinced, and the search goes on (Kilby, Hunting the Heffa-lump: Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, 1971)
Yet, despite all of the discussion and attention paid to this issue, fundamental questions remain unanswered in a generalize form: What is entrepreneurship?
- What is Entrepreneurship? From Historical Perspectives
Many definitions of entrepreneurship can be found in the literature describing business processes. The earliest definition of entrepreneurship, dating from the eighteenth century, used it as an economic term describing the process of bearing the risk of buying at certain prices and selling at uncertain prices. Later commentators broadened the definition to include the concept of bringing together the factors of production. This definition led others to question whether there was any unique entrepreneurial function or whether it was simply a form of management. Early this century, the concept of innovation was added to the definition of entrepreneurship. This innovation could be process innovation, market innovation, product innovation, factor innovation, and even organizational innovation. After a while, entrepreneurship was described as involving the creation of new enterprises and that the entrepreneur is the founder. Many kinds of organizations now exist to support would-be entrepreneurs, including specialized government agencies, business incubators, science parks, and some NGOs. In more recent times, the term entrepreneurship has been extended to include elements not related necessarily to business formation activity such as conceptualizations of entrepreneurship as a specific mindset resulting in entrepreneurial initiatives e.g. in the form of social entrepreneurship, political entrepreneurship, or knowledge entrepreneurship have emerged.
Considerable effort has also gone into trying to understand the psychological and sociological wellsprings of entrepreneurship. These studies have noted some common characteristics among entrepreneurs with respect to need for achievement, perceived locus of control, orientation toward intuitive rather than sensate thinking, and risk-taking propensity. In addition, many have commented upon the common, but not universal, thread of childhood deprivation, minority group membership and early adolescent economic experiences.
At the first glance, we may have started to understand the definition of entrepreneurship. However, the detailed study of both literatures and actual examples of entrepreneurship tend to make a definition more difficult, if not impossible.
- Schumpeter’s View of Entrepreneurship
Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter ‘s definition of entrepreneurship placed an emphasis on innovation, such as:
- new products
- new production methods
- new source of supply
- new markets
- new forms of organization
Wealth is created when such innovation results in new demand. From this viewpoint, one can define the function of the entrepreneur as one of combining various input factors in an innovative manner to generate value to the customer with the hope that this value will exceed the cost of the input factors, thus generating superior returns that result in the creation of wealth.
- The Need for Redefinition of Entrepreneurship in the Context of University
A dynamic and not static definition for the term entrepreneurship needs to be specifically adopted for the implementation all activities and programs. This approach in definition need to be taken as the process of developing enterprising culture is a progressive in nature. As such, it is a more programmatic approach that allows participants in the program be given guidance and support at the appropriate levels in the organizational entrepreneurship life cycle.
- The Underlying Principles behind the Redefinition
For the purpose of redefinition, some underlying principles need to be adopted as guiding the direction toward the long journey to the destination. Below are some of those underlying principles. By no means are these principles exhausted.
- The nature of university as a living system of an entrepreneurial organization
- The fundamental functions of the university as a learning, teaching, research and consultancy, and provider of community services institution.
- The positioning of university in the entrepreneurial activities
- The dynamic nature and growth phases of the organization life cycle
- The vision and mission of the university in championing human capital with entrepreneurial characteristics for the global prosperity.
- The consideration of creating enterprising students and staffs
- The universality of the concept of entrepreneurship of not only for profit organization but also for non profit organization
- The inclusion of social entrepreneurship in the contact
- The need for nurturing of enterprising students with entrepreneurial characteristics regardless of what profession they will venture after graduation
- The need to serve the small and medium enterprises
- Taking into consideration that entrepreneurship is a process.
- Suggested Alternatives Definitions of Entrepreneurship in the Context of University
Below are some suggested alternatives definitions of entrepreneurship for discussion and thought and probably will lead to unique definition in the contact of university.
- Entrepreneurship is a capacity building and willingness to undertake conception, organization, and management of productive venture with all attendant risks, while seeking profit or non profit with consideration of creating enterprising culture and society, social well being, economic and social impact for global prosperity as reward. The entrepreneurial spirit is characterized by innovative, creative, risk taking, and essential components of organization’s ability to succeed in an even changing, challenging, dynamic, and more competitive global environment.
- Entrepreneurship is the dynamic process of creating incremental wealth. This wealth is created by individuals who assume the major risks in terms of equity, time, and/or career commitment of providing value for some product or service. The product or service itself may or may not be new or unique but value must somehow be infused by the entrepreneur by securing and allocating the necessary skills and resources.
- Entreprenership is a dynamic process of vision, change, and creation. It requires an application of energy and passion towards the creation and implementation of new ideas and creative solutions. Essential ingredients include the willingness to take calculated risks- in terms of time, equity, or career; the ability to formulate an effective venture team; the creative skill to marshal needed resources; the fundamental skills of building a solid business plan; and, finally, the vision to recognize opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction, and confusion.
- Concluding Remarks
The concepts, historical perspectives, and the underlying principles, the dynamic of the organization life cycle and the environment, the conceptualization and the practicality of entrepreneurship will provide thought of developing a unique definition of entrepreneurship for the University. This is one the many alternatives to place university on the perceptual map among higher learning institutions around the globe as unique and different. Hopefully, this short paper will lead toward that direction
Kilby, Peter, Hunting the Heffalump (1971). Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Vol. , p. 1-40 1971.
Schumpeter, J.A. (1934). “The Theory of Economic Development”, Cambridge, MA, US: Harvard University Press.
By Prof. Dato’ Abdul Aziz Ab Latif
17 January 2019