Chapter 2EntrepreneurshipDefining EntrepreneurshipThe purpose of this chapter is to construct a working definition of entrepreneurshipand research method suiting that definition. To accommodate the readers who areless familiar with recent academic discussions on entrepreneurship, we will startwith a brief resume of those discussions, before moving on to our working defini-tion of entrepreneurship.The number of different definitions of entrepreneurship in recent academicpublications is enormous. This diversity has not escaped the attention of theacademics. A number of researchers have attempted to find the reasons behindthis multitude of definitions.According to Davidson, there is a lack of common understanding of whatentrepreneurship precisely is (Davidson 2004; Hill and Levenhagen 1995). Cassoncontends that most studies about entrepreneurship rely on stereotypes (Casson1982).A look of a few concrete definitions of entrepreneurship from notable scholars ofentrepreneurship will help getting an idea of the extent of the diversity. We willstart with quoting two full definitions and then list a number of other influentialresearchers and what they consider to be the core issue of entrepreneurship:The field of entrepreneurship is defined as the scholarly examination of how, by whom, andwith what effects opportunities to create future goods and services are discovered,evaluated and exploited. (Shane and Venkataraman 2000, p. 218)Entrepreneuring is the efforts to bring about new economic, social, institutional, andcultural environments through the actions of an individual or group of individuals.(Rindova et al. 2009, p. 477)P.J. Peverelli and J. Song,Chinese Entrepreneurship,DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-28206-5_2,#Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 201211
Lumpkin and Dess (1996), Low andMacMillan (1988), Gartner (1988)New entry; the creation of new enterprises/organizationsCole (1949)A purposeful activity to initiate, maintain andaggrandize a profit-oriented businessWiklund (1998)Taking advantage of opportunity by novelcombinations of resources in ways which haveimpact on the marketStevenson and Jarillo (1990)The process by which individuals pursueopportunities without regard to the resources theycurrently controlThese definitions have been selected, because they reflect a number of problemsin defining entrepreneurship. The first definition uses the noun ‘entrepreneurship’,which evokes a perception of entrepreneurship as an entity, or a trait, while thesecond definition speaks of ‘entrepreneuring’, a verb, conveying a feeling ofprocess. Weick has already pointed out that people tend to talk about organizationsusing nouns, and urges researchers to use more verbs, in particular gerunds (likeRindova et al. 2009), direct attention to the processes that construct organizations(Weick 1979, p. 44). Although semantically equivalent, the cognitive difference onthe part of the reader between ‘the creation of X’ and ‘creating X’ is significant. Theabove table indicates that the trend in the recent academic study of entrepreneurshiphas been to abandon traits and focus on processes.