Academic journal article Entrepreneurial Executive

Are the Common Myths of Entrepreneurship All That Common? A Test of Entrepreneurs and Non-Entrepreneurs

Academic journal article Entrepreneurial Executive

Are the Common Myths of Entrepreneurship All That Common? A Test of Entrepreneurs and Non-Entrepreneurs

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

It has been suggested that there is general misunderstanding in the business and academic communities as to the definition, form, and substance of entrepreneurship. Common myths of entrepreneurship have been advanced such as "Entrepreneurship involves starting and running a small business" and "Entrepreneurship requires a lot of money." A sample of 163 subjects revealed overall disagreement with the stated myths. Evidence supported a hypothesized divergence of opinion about entrepreneurship myths between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, but there was no difference of opinion between less successful and more successful entrepreneurs. Implications of the findings are discussed.

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

As economies expand and develop globally, entrepreneurial activity is seen as a cornerstone of the developmental process, whether by new, start-up firms or by new ventures from within existing firms. Morris (1998) boldly claims that we have entered the "Age of Entrepreneurship." A recent survey revealed that 80% of the opinion leaders questioned believe that entrepreneurship will be the defining business trend in the next century. Factors identified as driving the trend include technology advancements, a high growth/low inflation economy, social factors, globalization of economies, large companies' inability to adapt, and government deregulation (Carey & Tian, 1998).

Entrepreneurs' challenges are different from those encountered by the prototypical manager. Bhide (1996) suggests that the issues entrepreneurs face every day would overwhelm the typical manager. Entrepreneurs frequently operate without the "safety net" possibly afforded managers in traditional organ-izations. They are often forging into uncharted competitive and technological territories with little if any history to act as guideposts. There is probably agreement in the general population that entrepreneurship is defined in terms of assumption of risk, innovation, and an ability to create and manage change. Academicians and business people alike identify certain elements of entrepreneurial skill as a requisite component of viable company strategy. Entrepreneurship is key to the creation of new business models; that is, novel business forms, products/services and/or delivery systems. Internet-based companies such as Yahoo! and Amazon.com are good examples of new business models. Gardner and Gardner (1999) identify "visionary entrepreneurship", converting what was once seen as impractical dreams into tangible powerful businesses, as a requirement for building great companies.

As important and pervasive as entrepreneurship is today, there may be disagreement or misconception as to what truly constitutes entrepreneurship. Pitt (1998) suggests that entre-preneurship is in danger of becoming yet another "buzzword," popularized yet bastardized by the popular press, consultants, and entrepreneurs themselves. Pitt observes "entrepreneurial" descriptions applied to issues and objects as diverse as competitive strategy, performance potential observed in children, and leadership.

Morris (1998) suggests that entrepreneurship is a concrete, measurable, and essential phenomenon for individual, organizational, and societal success. He eschews the traditional conceptualizations of entrepreneurship as vague and replete with popular myths and misunderstandings. He further argues that virtually everyone has entrepreneurial potential and that unleashing this potential can positively affect one's environment to make meaningful, significant contributions. He introduces the concept of "entrepreneurial intensity" as the strength and frequency of entrepreneurship, conceptualized and operationalized on a continuous scale across all levels of analysis. Morris provides a framework that explains, among other things, the influences on the entrepreneurial process (including misconceptions or myths) and the importance and pervasiveness of entrepreneurship in everyone's lives. …

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