This exploratory study investigated venture managers' creativity, the innovativeness of their ventures, and their implementation orientation. The study is important in view of South Africa's poor global ranking in "Total Entrepreneurship Activity" (TEA), reported by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Creativity is closely related to entrepreneurial activity as an entrepreneurial skill, and therefore the levels of and relationships between creativity, innovation and implementation need to be assessed to create a basis for investigation and to explore possible reasons for the low entrepreneurial activity in South Africa.
The literature on entrepreneurship theory concerning creativity, innovation, implementation and the entrepreneurial process is combined into a conceptual model and precedes the results of a survey among small-venture managers. Firstly, the analysis confirmed the existence of perceptions of own creativity, perceptions of venture innovativeness and implementation orientation of small-venture managers as measurable factors. Secondly, it was found that venture managers do perceive themselves as creative and their ventures as innovative but, contrary to expectations, it was found that implementation orientation was lacking. Thirdly, the absence of expected correlations between creativity, innovation and implementation raised several interesting challenges for creativity development and education in the entrepreneurship domain.
Creativity, knowledge and new ideas have become essential in an era in which innovative business models enable organisations to get ahead of competitors (Leibold, Voelpel and Tekie 2004: 62). However, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) reports that South Africa ranks in the lowest quartile of all the participating developing countries for Total Entrepreneurship Activity (TEA), with only six out of every hundred adults regarded as being entrepreneurial (Foxcroft, Wood, Kew, Herrington and Segal, 2002: 4). The key factor in improving this low entrepreneurial activity, according to the GEM report, is education (Orford, Herrington and Wood, 2004: 34). Teaching learners to be innovative entrepreneurs, rather than merely "firm-organising managers" (managers whose ventures do not expand or grow above inflation) appears, however, to be a significant problem facing educators (Bull, Thomas and Willard 1995: 165). Bull et al. (1995: 166) describe the fundamental differences between innovative entrepreneurs and "firmorganising managers" as, firstly, the innovative act, and secondly, the recognition and development of opportunity. They acknowledge that the ability to act creatively and innovatively is something that cannot be transferred easily by means of education.
There is, however, more to entrepreneurship than innovation, such as opportunity, strategy, resource application, risk and growth. Drucker (1998: 145) points out that the very foundation of entrepreneurship is the practice of systematic innovation, which he defines as the effort to create purposeful, focused change in a venture's economic potential. Innovation is the specific function of entrepreneurship, whether in an existing venture, a public service institution, or a new venture (Drucker 1998: 144). In an investigation of the importance of entrepreneurial qualities among small-venture owners and non-venture owners, Trevisan, Grundling and de Jager (2002:135) report that creativity is the characteristic that discriminates between the best small-venture owners and people who are not small-business owners, thereby confirming the important role of creativity in the entrepreneurial process. It can therefore be reasoned that if people believe they are creative (have a high self-perception of creativity), they will demonstrate high levels of innovation. Entrepreneurs should therefore measure (and rate themselves) high on creativity, innovation and the ability to implement the innovations in order to grow their ventures. …