Entrepreneurship in the Quantum Age: A New Set of Skills to Enhance Organizational Development

By Shelton, Charlotte K.; Darling, John R. | Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Entrepreneurship in the Quantum Age: A New Set of Skills to Enhance Organizational Development


Shelton, Charlotte K., Darling, John R., Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal


ABSTRACT

The 21st century could be called The Quantum Age. Computers, the internet, bar code readers and laser surgery represent only a few of the practical outcomes of a theory of physics called quantum mechanics. In this article, quantum theory is used as the foundation of a new paradigm that can increase the effectiveness of entrepreneurial leaders. The traditional management skills of planning, organizing, directing, and controlling are simply inadequate for leading in The Quantum Age. These traditional skills were, in fact, derived from classical, seventeenth-century Newtonian physics; therefore, it is reasonable to use the principles of quantum physics to identify a more contemporary skill set. The seven Quantum Skills overviewed in this article are not only derived from state-of-the-art science, they are also congruent with timeless, universal spiritual principles. These skills are premised on the belief that human organizations are fundamentally unpredictable living systems rather than stable, machine-like entities. Mastering these Quantum Skills will enable entrepreneurs to improve their ability to innovatively lead their organizations in the fast-paced, often chaotic, world of the 21st century.

INTRODUCTION

An entrepreneur is an innovator or developer who recognizes and seizes opportunities; converts those opportunities into workable and marketable ideas; adds value through time, effort, money, or skills; assumes the risks of the competitive marketplace to implement those ideas; and realizes the rewards from those efforts (Kuratko & Hodgetts, 1995, 4). A major challenge is that in order to achieve these purposes, the entrepreneur must typically do so through others functioning in an organizational setting. Skills for successful leadership therefore become of major importance to the achievement of meaningful objectives in entrepreneurship.

The modern era encompasses a period that technologically could be called The Quantum Age. Computers, the internet, bar code readers and laser surgery represent only a few of the new and innovative outcomes of a theory of physics called quantum mechanics. This term was introduced early in the 20th century to describe the physics of the subatomic realm. The subatomic realm refers to everything in the physical world that is smaller than an atom. The word quantum literally means "a quantity of something;" mechanics refers to "the study of motion." Quantum mechanics is, therefore, the study of subatomic particles in motion (Shelton, Quantum Leaps, 1999, 1-4). However, subatomic particles are not material things; rather, they are probability tendencies--energy with potentiality.

Subatomic particles interact across time and space in unknown and unpredictable ways. This does not mean that the movements of these particles are totally random, but it does mean that they are not brought about by any discernible cause. Due to this phenomenon, until recently quantum concepts have not been applied to human behavior. This perspective and tendency is, however, shifting. Recent research in psychology, biology, and neurophysiology suggests that human beings are, indeed, quantum beings. Even though a person may be viewed primarily as a material being, there is also an invisible, nonmaterial dimension (mind, consciousness or spirit) whose functioning appears to be affected by quantum principles (Dyer, 1995, 1-2).

In this article, quantum theory is used as a new way of thinking about entrepreneurial behavior and, more specifically, as the foundation for a new paradigm that can appreciably impact the effectiveness of entrepreneurial leadership in an organization. The traditional beliefs about leadership, and the nature of organizational workplaces, have been limited by a mechanistic, deterministic, and reductionistic point of view. However, contemporary thought about entrepreneurial leadership necessitates new models and new skills--skills that are more appropriate for meeting the complexities of The Quantum Age--skills that will enable entrepreneurs to function more effectively in a world that is changing at warp speed.

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