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Entrepreneurship Case

Essay by   •  March 29, 2013  •  Case Study  •  2,261 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,029 Views

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Entrepreneurs play a vital role in the global economy. The new businesses are a source of job creation and economic growth. For decades scholars from different academic fields have attempted to define entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur and to identify the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs (Ernst & Young, 2011). This essay will examine many of the theories associated with entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur. It will also assess a number of personality traits that are shared by entrepreneurs. Maxine Clark, born Maxine Kesselmen, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop (BBW) would be compared against these personality traits.

The word entrepreneurship is derived from the French Word 'entrepredre' meaning 'to undertake' or 'to take into one's own hands' and has its use has its origins during the Industrial Revolution. However, today there is still no widely accepted definition of entrepreneurship or the entrepreneur. Instead, what exists are different perspectives from scholars in different academic disciplines including Economics, Sociology and Psychology (Schaper, Volery, Weber & Lewis, 2011).

Many scholars have attempted to define entrepreneurship but to date scholars have not agreed on a single definition of the term. For example Karl Vesper defines the entrepreneurship as 'the creation of new organizations', Timmons defines it as the 'the pursuit of opportunity' and Allan defines it as 'a way of thinking'. Scraper, Volery, Weber and Lewis (2011) define entrepreneurship as "the process, brought about by individuals, of identifying new opportunities and converting them into marketable products or services". In other words, it is the process of action that an entrepreneur takes to establish a business. Entrepreneurs search for opportunities, analyze them and then pursue them by establishing the business. Allen is right when he defined entrepreneurship as way of thinking because it is a process that involves numerous activities. The idea must first be conceived in the mind, before the business is created and operated.

People who establish the businesses are called entrepreneurs. However, scholars from different academic disciplines have diverse theories about who an entrepreneur really is, how one becomes an entrepreneur, their role in society and the characteristics that they possess which set them apart from the general population. Scholars in the field of economics have attempted to define the entrepreneur. Three noteworthy scholars who defined the entrepreneur from an economic perspective were Cantillion, Jean Batiste Say and Mark Casson. Richard Cantillion defines the entrepreneur as "a person who pays a certain price for a product to resell it at an uncertain price, thereby making decisions about obtaining and using the resources while consequently admitting the risk of enterprise" (Schaper et al., 2011). Cantillion defined the entrepreneur as someone who pays known costs of production but earns uncertain outcomes and takes on the risk of doing this. Say argued that the function of the entrepreneur is to rationally combine the forces of production into a new productivity organisation. He coordinates and supervises production (Schaper et al., 2011). Finally, Casson defined the entrepreneur as someone who organizes resources. Israel Kizner, another scholar spoke about entrepreneurial alertness. Kizner opines that the entrepreneur has no special knowledge, but is simply able to perceive market opportunities and assemble the factors of production to exploit them before others. He is alert to opportunities (Schaper et al, 2011).

The sociological approach to entrepreneurship acknowledges the importance of the environment and the influence of culture on individuals (Nayab, 2011). Sociologists believe that certain communities promote entrepreneurship. More specifically, they believe that the country one lives in and the society or community where an individual grew up or now lives, influence that individual's behavior (Ernst & Young, 2011). Additionally, Sociologists believe that certain cultures - their values, religious beliefs and customs and taboos influence an individual's behavior and can either encourage or discourage entrepreneurship. As Ernst & Young (2011) noted "the way in which culture celebrates or stigmatizes failure can make a difference in how entrepreneurial leaders see risk". He noted that in some societies failure is seen as a vital lesson and entrepreneurs are encouraged to try again. However, in other cultures there is a persistent fear of failure that deters entrepreneurs from taking risks. Additionally, family background like ethnic group, the size and the type of family can influence an individual's decision to engage in entrepreneurial activities. For example, an individual is most likely to become an entrepreneur if his family owns and operates a business.

Furthermore, Sociologists argue that work experience and education can mould entrepreneurs. Firstly, previous experience in work or in other entrepreneurial endeavors can give the entrepreneur the necessary skills, expertise, relevant and valuable insight and perspectives in business and knowledge of risk involved to be successful in a new or existing business. Maxine started off her corporate career in 1972 as an executive trainee at May Department Store. She gained over 19 years of experience and learned everything about the retail industry - planning, research, marketing and product development. She became president of Payless ShoeSource, another May subsidiary from 1992 - 1996. With her skills in spotting emerging retail and merchandising trends she turned the retailer into the number one seller of children's licensed footwear in the world (Eng, 2012). Maxine stated in an interview "When I worked for May Company, I always felt everyday that I was in charge of my own business and my own destiny. It was a perfect training ground for what I went on to do". Apart from her corporate experience Maxine Clarke graduated from the University of Georgia with her BSC and she also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree.

From a psychological perspective psychologists argue that entrepreneurs are isolated from the general population because they possess unique attributes or personality traits. They ignore the influence of the environment and may reduce the role of education. Psychologists are divided on the issue of whether entrepreneurs are born with these personality traits or they are learnt as individuals grow up and are influenced by environmental, cultural and societal factors. Nonetheless, scholars have attempted to identify the particular characteristics and habits of successful entrepreneurs by conducting research and using case studies. Thus far, key attributes that were identified include

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