Nurturing Entrepreneurship: Reconsideration for Competitive Strategy

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INTRODUCTION

The United States for many decades reigned as a world leader in productivity and gross national product. However, beginning the 1960s other nations have grown in economic strength. As a result, the United States has a gross domestic output per capita which is third in the world behind Japan and Germany (Ali, Chaubey & Camp, 1995) althoLgh America still leads in a number of key industries; for example, in terms of market share of high-tech manufacturing, the U.S. leads the world in six of eight industries (Keilany & Helms, 1995). Yet, despite recent gains, articles appear which decry the decline of American competitiveness (Hayajneh, Udeh & Kedia, 1994). For the purposes of this paper, competitiveness will be defined as the rate of growth (or decline) in world markets foi manufactured goods. Using this definition, at the least, it is apparent that the U.S. is no longer number one in all areas.

What reasoning is offered to explain America's competitive position in international markets? These reasons are varied; for example some scholars refer to the need for American firms to adapt to change in order to maintain competitiveness (Enen, 1993). Other scholars examine antiquated antitrust legislation (Harvey, Lusch & Cavarkapa, 1995), or the need to revitalize manufacturing strategy development (Helms, 1994), or effect patent and intellectual property protection (Erickson, 1994), or to address internal organization and infrastructure of industries (Marshall, 1993), or to address quality (Hayajneh, Udeh & Kedia, 1994), or in the need to transport marketing management practices into high-tech settings (Busbin & Pearce, 1993), just to name a few. Others see the road to improvement in more human terms. These include scholars who see the route to enhancing competitiveness by focusing on human capital (Moon & Peery, 1995), constantly innovating (Peters & Austin, 1985), hiring innovative managers (Katsioloudes & Balsmeier, 1995) or focussing on corporate entrepreneurship (Wilhelm & Trevino, 1994).

Krugman (1994) said that nations do not compete with each other, rather competition is at the firm level, and there is strong support for this view (Puri, 1994; Suchon, 1994; Hinchey, 1994). Since Schumpeter (1934), many scholars have stressed entrepreneurship as a key part of a firm's performance; some have even described it as essential fwr continuing competitiveness (Wilhelm & Trevino, 1994).

The Phoenicians may have invented entrepreneurship, but Americans perfected the art; in fact, the nation was founded by entrepreneurs (Carland & Carland, 1990). From the days of the Yankee Clipper Ships in the nation's infancy taking trade throughout the world, to the modern dominance of technology development, America has been personified by entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs no longer mean small businesses. In fact, a new term, intrapreneurship, is frequently employed to describe corporate entrepreneurship (Pinchot, 1985), and, increasingly, we talk about entrepreneurial activities at the corporate level (Wilhelm & Trevino, 1994). Further, we know that the U.S. is still ranked number one in entrepreneurship in the world (Dunning & Holmes, 1993). Central to this work is the belief that entrepreneurial thinking contributes to America's competitive success. Thus, an extension of this logic raises the question, How can entrepreneurship be nurtured? This paper introduces and examines the premise that entrepreneurs think differently from others, and that understanding this difference allows an organization to better nurture entrepreneurship for competitive benefit.

Yeats (1952), the celebrated poet, asked, How can we know the dancer from the dance? Gartner (1988) used that analogy to describe why it is not important to study individual entrepreneurs. Carland, Hoy and Carland (1988) interpreted it differently, suggesting that one can never understand the dance without understanding the dancer. …